250 Posts, Still Can’t Draw

This is the 250th post on Math with Bad Drawings.

That’s a quarter-thousand! It’s double five-cubed! It’s 1/4000 of the way to a million! If posts were days in a pregnancy, this blog is… kinda almost birth-ready! If posts were meters, I’d have walked… to the corner store! If posts were nickels, I’d have… uh, $12.50!

Okay, now that you’re duly impressed, I have a confession: I’ve been hiding comics from you.

Since late 2016, I’ve been posting one-off cartoons to the Math with Bad Drawings Facebook page. I encourage you to “Like” the page so you can see them all. But in case you’re some kind of conscientious objector to social media (if true: thanks for exempting WordPress from your boycott!) here’s a (partial) retrospective collection.20160718093148_00012

I find it funny when people claim that “percentages over 100% are impossible.” They’re not just possible – they’re easy! For example, the United States National Debt is currently 105% of the United States GDP.

Now, how hard is it to rack up a little debt? A trillion here, a trillion there, and it adds up surprisingly fast. Easy.


Not depicted: the graffiti itself, which is also a feeble statistics pun.

(That’s what the purple parent is really mad about, obviously. Puns aren’t even jokes, really; they’re just a lazy mind eating its own language. That’s the real deviancy here.)


And the Sigma’s Greek glare!
The terms added in air!
Gave proof through the night
that our sum was still there…

Oh, say does that star-indexed banner yet wave…


[2 hours later]

“Don’t tell me. Another unanticipated 5-minute delay?”
“No, this delay is only 45 seconds! But I’ll come clean: this one we actually anticipated.”



Honest mistake.

d(Instruction Method)/d(Student) = 0 is a differential equation that applies to an awful lot of lessons, I’d imagine.


The real problem with “capital numbers”: are the ones we have now the upper-case or the lower-case version?

8 feels super upper-case to me, but 3 could really go either way.


Side point: I find two-tailed hypothesis tests pretty inexplicable in many contexts where they’re used.

“We think our drug will make you a lot better. Or worse. We haven’t decided yet so we’ll hedge our bets on the statistical analysis.”

“We expect people who have suffered a recent trauma to show more physiological signs of stress. Or – who knows – maybe fewer signs. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Anyway, I think this student reporting the p-value from the two-tailed test is pretty sensible, although it’s admittedly burying the lead.



Ah, a time capsule: I drew this one in October, back when it felt like “breaking news” was a thing news organizations said to make you care about something unimportant but recent.

Maybe less relevant now. It’s been a newsy few months.


My wife hates this one. Sorry, Taryn! But hey, it’s not my fault that my drawings achieve such a haunting photorealism.


My own ill-formed impression of flipped classrooms? They make a lot of sense for college, but not really for high school.

In college, you’ve often got 50+ students to a class, and lots of content is delivered by lecture. Might as well videotape those lectures, let kids watch ’em at home, and spend class time interacting and asking questions and doing cool papier-mache activities.

In high school, though, with classes of 25 and attention spans measured in milliseconds, lecture isn’t a useful tool anyway. Even direct instruction needs some element of interaction and responsiveness to be more than 2% effective. So watching videos at home isn’t a natural substitute; it’s a shoddy one.


Little-known fact: Zeno’s original phrasing of the paradox was just a long rant about why “The Hobbit” should have been a single film.


Three years in, this is still how I feel about England.


I looked up the etymology, and it’s wildly unsatisfying. At some point “terrific” just started meaning “good.”

I say we try this with a new word. For example, I’d like “idiot” and “idiocy” to keep their current meanings, but for “idiotic” to mean “sizzling with genius.”

For example: thanks to all my idiotic readers for your idiotic comments. Honestly, I know I’ve become a real idiot about replying, but I read and appreciate everything you guys write, and I’m hoping to overcome my own idiocy and engage in the conversations more.

Y’all are terrific, and I feel so lucky and grateful that my little jokes and sketches and musings have a place in your Internet life. Your replies are always wonderful and your enthusiasm means worlds to me.

Thanks for checking out the first 250 posts. Here’s to 999,750 more.


20 thoughts on “250 Posts, Still Can’t Draw

  1. “But in case you’re some kind of conscientious objector to social media”: Hi! (Although for me it’s mostly just Facebook.)
    “I find it funny when people claim that ‘percentages over 100% are impossible.’ They’re not just possible – they’re easy!”: Depends on what they’re percentages *of*. If it’s the maximum possible, then by definition, percentages over 100% of that are impossible (assuming the maximum possible is positive, of course).
    Capital numbers: I’ve at one point seen/heard old-style numbers (the kind where the digits are different heights, and often the 1 looks like a small capital i; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_figures ) compared to lowercase letters, so I guess those would be lowercase numbers and our normal modern numbers would be uppercase.

  2. I’m a Facebook-specific CO as well, so I had no idea this was going on. It’s a nice surprise to get all in one package! I noticed a singleton on Twitter the other day – maybe you’ll consider that as a second route for those of us who insist on thinking there’s a difference?

    Congratulations on your 250th post. I discovered you back in late 2013 when Keith Devlin recommended your “What it Feels Like to be Bad at Math” while I was taking his Mathematica Thinking mooc. Ever since, I’ve referred to you as “my favorite math blogger (Humor Division)” though I’ll admit, at first you were really my only math blogger.

    Thanks for bringing the funny. This (slowly) recovering mathphobe needs it. I still introduce myself in every math mooc, when they ask why we’re taking the course, with “Because I want to get the jokes” and your jokes are some of the hardest to get. Hey, that’s where my motivation lives, so why not use it, and then when I have to do some weird calculations for a science class, I’m not completely wigged out.

  3. Hi! Italian student in mathematics, here! And also conscientious objector to social media. Thank you very much, you’re great, I really enjoy your drawings! 🙂

  4. “But in case you’re some kind of conscientious objector to social media”: Hi! Ever since, I’ve referred to you as “my favorite math blogger (Humor Division)” though I’ll admit, at first you were really my only math blogger.

  5. I’m trained in history but I’ve ended up teaching a chemistry or physics class because I “understand the math” (we’ll leave judgement on that statement to others) and you drawings are a much-needed source of humor. Thank you!

  6. Horror vs terror. THANK YOU!!! I told my wife this one some time ago, and she told me to go away and stop bringing stuff like this to her.

  7. Many moons ago, my license plate was “3SIGMA” It probably should have said 4 because too many people thought it referred to a sorority, and 4 would have been more accurate!
    I love your cartoons! <3

  8. I bring your attention to the following:


    They share the same root.
    Stupere (Latin) – to be amazed or stunned

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