Wednesday, March 31, 2010


(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

Give it a second. It'll come to you.

And how does he text with those gloves on?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Log vs. Ln

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

I came close to having a "natural E" eighth note bounce in on the right side, but then all the "see sharp" and "be flat" jokes came to mind.

I always hated logarithms, but at least I could understand what base 10 was. How do you have a base where you don't even know what the number is? Why not 2? Why not pi? Oh, yes, because this irrational number was "natural"!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cantor Infinity

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

And how long would you have to wait at the infinite bar for a table in the infinite dining room?
And is there express checkout?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Farmville Funnies #5: Keep to the Music

A bonus comic:

Once upon a time, before the Macarena, there was the "Alley Cat". And don't get me started about the Chicken Dance.

I took this picture a while ago, but I didn't get around to mocking it up as a comic until today. Sorry for the wait.

By the way, does anyone have a farm with a buffalo on it? I have a favor to ask...

Farmville is a trademark of Zynga, Inc.
Since I didn't do the artwork, it's not going on the CG site as an "official" comic. It will probably show up on my Facebook page instead.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lunacon 2010 Report, part two

As this has been a week from Hell, I'm going to dwell on the events of last weekend instead. And that would be Lunacon 2010. Indulge me.

I attended the usual panel discussions on Lost, Doctor Who, Stargate and the Obligatory Harry Potter Panel. (Yes, that's what it was called.) I missed some of the humorous panels, the year in review for TV and movies, etc. I didn't make it to any with Josepha Sherman speaking or reading. (She's a hoot!) However, doing something completely different, I attended Putting the "Win" in Wine, out by the gazebo. I learned a few things about wine -- not from a Master of wine, but from someone well on her way to becoming one, Brandy Hauman. (Yes, the Wine Lady was named Brandy.) No free samples, but I got a free corkscrew.

I attended one reading by Laura Anne Gilman. She was one of the first people I saw on Friday (and she remembered who I was from last year), and I promised to be at her reading on Sunday morning. Ms. Gilman also provided Saturday's corkscrew's, which were inscribed The Vineart War.

The game room was busier than usual. We had to find someplace else to play Loot. There was a designated overflow area, but it wasn't game for card games. We were looking forward to playing a new game that involved mad cows and unexploded land mines (two birds, one stone?), but the directions couldn't be found, so the demo was postponed. I watched the end of a game of Kill Dr. Lucky, which is sort of like Clue in reverse. Interesting.

I skipped both the Regency Dance, which I usually skip, and the Steampunk Ball, which I attended last year, but wasn't up for this time because of a cold. Instead, we spent some time back in the room watching The IT Crowd. I'd heard of it, but hadn't seen it before.

The Dealers Room hadn't changed, but I guess I had. No T-shirts or buttons for me this year. I picked up a game supplement (Munchkin 6), a pocket watch, which reminded me of one I had back in college, and some accessories for a costume that may or may not ever be put together.

Speaking of costumes, the Masquerade didn't feature all that many and it was sparsely attended. We left before the judging, which usually takes forever, and skipped the previews.

The Con Suite was well run, and I spent quite a bit of time in there talking, relaxing and eating snacks and bagels. We managed to not eat in the hotel restaurant at all, choosing instead to drive to the Coach diner and the Burger and Brew (whatever it's called now).

This year, we came up with two solutions to walking back to the hotel from dinner in the dark while trying not to turn an ankle in a pothole or falling into a ditch. First, I brought small, cheap flashlights for everyone. Second, we decided this year to eat at four in the afternoon.

And that pretty much sums it up. Time to turn out the lights.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kiting Checks

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

Remember, you can check your kites, but you can't kite your checks.
But you can check your friend's kite.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

4 is the New 7: Lunacon 2010

I'm home again from my annual trek to Lunacon, the science-fiction fantasy convention held at the Rye Town Hilton for most of the past 20 years or so. I have no problem bringing this up in an educationally-themed blog for a couple of reasons: first, there are a number of science panels held over the three days, and the number of combined degrees held by the panelists would likely fill a circle, if not a decagon. Second, many youngsters have had their knowledge of mathematics broadened simply by asking, "Why is this hotel called the Escher Hilton?", followed by "Why is it called the Mobius Hilton?"

Following the floor plans -- or attempting to -- answers that question quickly, but only if you are aware of the works of M. C. Escher and Mobius strips. But that only adds to the charm. Regular con-goers are used to this, as well as knowing the location of the trans-dimensional corridor that manages to link the 4th and 7th floors.

Until this year.

Someone at Hilton, lacking a sense of humor, has renumbered the floors of the wing which formerly housed the fifth through eight floors. (Floors 1 through 4 are in the other wing.) Now, they are the second through fifth floors, and the two fourth floors are connected by the long hallway. That's all fine and well, but it results in the fact that the second wing has no first floor and the second floor is mostly underground. (The newly redesignated third floor has access to the parking lot where you can walk around to the lobby.) And let's not get started on the walking distance between rooms 410 and 4010.

Now you might wonder why I might carp on this so much. Well, three reasons:
- Because it's fun.
- Because I can.
- Because they lost my reservation.

(The last was resolved with only two followup visits to the main desk, which prevented this from being a real Rant.)

A good time was had, and a con report may follow in a couple days. Or not.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Perp Walk

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

This tagline is dead. It has ceased to be.

Have you ever had a clever joke or thought or idea that you couldn't wait to tell someone, and you waited and waited and waited for the right moment to tell them and just as you were about to ... you realized that it really wasn't at all as clever as you originally though and was a bit too obscure?

That's why there's a perpendicular joke for St. Patrick's Day and it doesn't even involve falling off a barstool.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Zombies, Again

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

Too much of a good thing, even Zombies or Bunnies, isn't necessarily a good thing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

And after that comes another terrifying game: Bunnies!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie Math Quote #66

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

Spoiler Alert: They win sum, and they lose sum.

And I guess I need an explanation for Taylor series.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The End of State Testing?

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

There's a hole in the budget, dear Liza, dear Liza . . .

Great thing about the Internet: You can find out about a stupid government memo, raid another comic strip for appropriate panels and have a response in just a few hours time (while teaching students along the way, of course!)

Thanks, once again, to David Morgan-Mar, of Irregular Webcomic, for allowing use of his material under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Licence.

As such, the comic above is also copyright and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Licence.

And thanks to jd2718's blog for alerting me to the fact that NY State [is considering] dumping most “Regents” Exams.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

What's Wrong with this Math Problem?

There was a problem, which was discussed at a professional development workshop yesterday. (Yes, on Saturday. Sigh) It caused a bit of a ruckus, debate and a lot of raised voices, but not too many listeners, so I don't think it would qualify as "accountable talk".

And, keep in mind, the participants were all mature adults, not to mention math teachers.

Here it is:

Kinesthetic Learning: Uniform Motion

A car starts from a town traveling at 40 mph. Two hours later, a second car leaves the same town and heads in the same direction at 60 mph. How many hours will it take for the second car to pass the first?

So far, so good. As a whole, we skimmed over the algebraic solution with many not even looking at that page because we were moving to an exercise that involved two number lines and paper clips.

One line was titled "First Car" and was labeled every 40 miles.
The other was titled "Second Car" and was labeled the same way, but with dashed lines marking 60 and 180. (Those numbers didn't appear.)

Teams of two did the exercise and most groups came up with the same answer: Six hours.

Except that the answer was Four hours. Or was it?
What was the frame of reference? When did the clock start running? And if the educators (excuse me, "facilitators") can't agree to the interpretation, how will the students, particularly the ELLs?

Contrary to what others believed in the class, I didn't have a problem with the answer being four. (This is what I mean by not listening.) I did have two problems:

First, the question could have been a little clearer. And I say this as someone who always tells my students to go back and reread the question to make sure you answered what was being asked. This was the minor quibble.

Second, and more importantly, the activity associated with this problem led too many people to the wrong answer. It was like a game when were moving the pieces. We were taking turns. Where did the cars meet? At the 240 mile marker. How many turns was that? Six turns, but player two only moved four times during those six turns.

My point? Other than my frustration? Make sure the activity will mostly likely yield the result that it should.

One other point: Afterward, I spoke with one educator who at first thought that the answer was an inequality, having read the question as if it had said "is past the first car", which gave t > 6 (or t > 4). When he saw his mistake, we both questioned the use of the word "pass". At the solution time (whichever one), the cars will be even with each other. The first car has not been passed yet.

This isn't an insignificant matter. A question on the 2003 New York State Math A Regents -- the exam which was so bad, the results were thrown out -- there was a question that asked to find the "break even" point. Not all students understood the meaning of that financial term. Some thought they needed to find which ticket made the first dollar of profit. Their answers were off by 1.

In this example, the opposite is true. A student looking at the words "to pass" might assume that he had to add 1. Or one half. Or 0.00001.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Her Bars Don't Go to the Top of the Graph

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

This gag needed a new paradigm, but she only had eighteen cents.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

William of Occam

(Click on the cartoon to see the entire image.)
(C)Copyright 2010, C. Burke. All rights reserved.

If not for that vow of poverty, he could have made a mint on that line of shaving products.