Early April’s Math Comics

I had started to think the mathematics references in the comics pages were fading out and I might not have an installment to offer anytime soon. Then, on April 3, Pab Sugenis’s The New Adventures of Queen Victoria — a clip art comic strip which supposes the reader will recognize an illustration of King Edward VI — skipped its planned strip for the day (Sugenis’s choice, he says) and ran a Fuzzy Bunny Time strip calling on pretty much the expected rabbits and mathematics comic strip. (Some people in the Usenet group alt.fan.cecil-adams, which I read reliably and write to occasionally, say Sugenis was briefly a regular; perhaps so, but I don’t remember.) This would start a bumper crop of math strips for the week.

Continue reading “Early April’s Math Comics”

Some More Comic Strips

I might turn this into a regular feature. A couple more comic strips, all this week on gocomics.com, ran nice little mathematically-linked themes, and as far as I can tell I’m the only one who reads any of them so I might spread the word some.

Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics returns again with the Triangle Circus, in his strip of the 12th of March. This strip is also noteworthy for making use of “scalene”, which is also known as “that other kind of triangle” which nobody can remember the name for. (He’s had several other math-panel comic strips, and I really enjoy how full he stuffs the panels with drawings and jokes in most strips.)

Dave Blazek’s Loose Parts from the 15th of March puts up a version of the Cretan Paradox that amused me much more than I thought it would at first glance. I kept thinking back about it and grinning. (This blurs the line between mathematics and philosophy, but those lines have always been pretty blurred, particularly in the hotly disputed territory of Logic.)

Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff is in reruns, of course, and shows a random scattering of strips from the 1930s and 1940s and, really, seem to show off how far we’ve advanced in efficiency in setup-and-punchline since the early 20th century. But the rerun from the 17th of March (I can’t make out the publication date, although the figures in the article probably could be used to guess at the year) does demonstrate the sort of estimating-a-value that’s good mental exercise too.

I note that where Mutt divides 150,000,000 into 700,000,000 I would instead have divided the 150 million into 750,000,000, because that’s a much easier problem, and he just wanted an estimate anyway. It would get to the estimate of ten cents a week later in the word balloon more easily that way, too. But making estimates and approximations are in part an art. But I don’t think of anything that gives me 2/3ds of a cent as an intermediate value on the way to what I want as being a good approximation.

There’s nothing fresh from Bill Whitehead’s Free Range, though I’m still reading just in case.

Life as a Graduate Student

Life as a graduate student is not exactly the way Tuesday’s Free Range, by Bill Whitehead, presents it. But meetings with one’s advisor do feel terribly close to this.

A Brief Word for the Comic Pages

There’s legitimate mathematical content linked from here, but mostly, I want to promote what seems to be a little-known comic strip that’s working very hard at making me love it. Part of that work has been in producing a couple of mathematics-oriented strips. Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics, part of the gocomics.com comics empire, is a roughly twice-a-week strip filling the page with lots of detail humor. It’s the sort of comic strips which assumes you will remember Ludwig Miles van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. (However, I did see a Lego block version of the Farnsworth House in Barnes and Noble the other day, so maybe Miles van der Rohe has gone and become all trendy while I wasn’t looking.

Relevant to the nominal base for this little blog, though, is that Snider has posted a few comics based on mathematics jokes. The most recent is that from January 23, titled “Axes of Evil”, and mixes descriptive statistics with horror that is somehow not associated with calculating standard deviations. A little farther back is the December 12, 2011, strip, titled “Function World”, which adapts graphs of some popular functions, such as hyperbolas, the natural logarithm, and the inverse cosine (which is not actually popular, but don’t tell it) into amusement park rides. Do enjoy.

I am not certain how far in the archives people who haven’t got gocomics.com accounts can go before they’re nagged into getting gocomics.com accounts.