Monday, September 18, 2006


When Mother Dear showed me this comic this morning, I immediately started chuckling because I knew exactly why she was showing it to me. She promptly e-mailed the comic to Brother Dear, since he was the cause of our mirth :).

(click on strip to enlarge)


zan said...

So, was that you at age 4?

Susan said...

No, that was Ben at that age. That is why he was "the cause of our mirth." He really did ask my mom to listen to him count to insanely large numbers :). My Brother Dear also could estimate logarithms at the ripe old age of 7. Hehe.

Lydia said...

I cannot relate to this in the least. Forget about estimating logarithms, I didn't have my multiplication facts memorized until I was in fourth grade. *sheepish grin.* Even then it was only by rote memorization and repetition. My grandmother made up homemade flash cards one summer to review with me. If she hadn't done that I may not have known them today!

I do love "Baby Blues." It is one of my favorite comic strips. Thanks for sharing and for the chuckle. :)

Susan said...

I actually have no problem with rote memorization and repitition for basic arithmetic. I think it must be accompanied by a proper explanation of what exactly multiplication (and addition, subtraction, division) is, but I'm all for those handy flash cards :). Now for multiplying large numbers in the head, I suggest using the distributive property and your smaller multiplication facts, NOT memorizing a times table out to 100x100 :-D.

Anna Naomi said...

Goodness... logarithms at age 7?? Wow! You're a family of genius'. =) It was a cute cartoon!

sherrin said...

Oh dear, I mustn't marry a mathematician! I might get a child like that :)!!!! Just joking. Although I know I would have to hire a tutor for my child if I did get one like that . . . there is no way I could keep up!

Susan said...

I think the parents were the reason Ben could estimate logarithms at 7 :). My dad thought it would be a fun exercise. And it's not like at that age he completely understood what logarithms were, nor did he then proceed to do all of Algebra II. He didn't start Pre-Algebra until he was 9. Hannah and I were "late bloomers" at 10 ;-).

Besides, think of it this way, if you married a mathemetician he could be your built-in tutor :-D My dad's always said that "able to do calculus" is on the list of "requirements for any prospective suitors for his daughters. Hehe. I think he's partially joking, but I'm thinking he should up his requirement to Abstract Algebra.

Okay, I'm feeling goofy right now :).

Adrian C. Keister said...

Ah, yes. No one really understands the meaning of "infinity" until they have a toddler.

Very cute.

In Christ.

Ashley said...

When we were little, we used to taunt each other with sayings of "It's mine times infinity!" which of course evolved to "It's mine times infinity-and-one!" I don't think my poor parents were able to convince us that you culdn't add "one" to infinity.

Sherrin, I wouldn't worry too much. Both my parents were math majors in college and we are very definitely not like that. While all of us did well in math, we didn't do pre-algebra until middle school. ;-)

Susan said...

Why didn't I remember that your parents were math majors, Ashley? Hmm. You'd think I'd remember that, and I'm sure it's come up!

I laughed about "infinity-and-one" because we used to do the same thing - I think every kid does. Then of course after we were firmly convinced that infinity was the same thing as infinity and one, we graduated to claiming "infinity-the-biggest-kind." Hehe. Yes, there really are infinity types of infinity :), and if my memory serves me, they are ordered.

I admit that area of mathematics is pretty much unknown to me, but my dad has studied it some. I can differentiate between countably infinite and uncountably infinite :), though. The set of integers are an example of the former, and the real numbers of the latter.

Okay, sorry. I know you don't care, Ashley :), but I was happily reminiscing about Intro to Higher Math and Abstract Algebra. :-D

Adrian C. Keister said...

Actually, you can add one to infinity. You just get infinity right back. And guess what, Susan? The kinds of infinity which you so eloquently introduced play an absolutely critical role in metalogic. They have to do with counting the number of theorems a system can have, and constructing proofs for them and whatnot.

Incidentally, if you ever do study metalogic, I can tell you there are two basic problems in metalogic: consistency and completeness. The first asks the question: if I can prove something, is it true? This isn't a stupid question because you could easily dream up a system where your deductive apparatus is too strong, allowing you to get things that aren't true. Completeness asks the other question: if something is true, can I prove it?

I thought metalogic was a blast, and the Goedel stuff is amazing. The philosophical import is significant, to be sure.

In Christ.

Susan said...

If you're trying to convince me to attempt metalogic, it's working. My problem at this point in life is that there are too many things I want to study, and not enough hours in the day!

For example, I only really became a student of theology about five years ago, and only reformed in doctrine about 3 years ago, so in those 3 years I've tried to make up for all of my wasted years of not studying theology, particularly reformed doctrine!

Similarly, I only "discovered" Jane Austen about 7 years ago, and the rest of classic literature about 4-5 years ago, so I've since been trying to make up for my past wayward habits of one trite "inspirational fiction" book after another. . . or mysteries. . . I devoured up to 3 a day during summers. And, um, I'm not talking about Sherlock Holmes either ;).

Then I want to reteach myself things like basic logic, of which I only had a taste. Then I'd love to go on in logic and study something like metalogic. And reteach myself Calculus, which is gradually leaving my brain :(, though I can still do the basics.

Then there are these things called "jobs," "responsibilities," "family," "friends," etc. that take up time as well. Oh yes, and blogging. That's my attempt to redeem my wasted years of not spending my writing skills profitably.

Okay, at this point I'm just rambling. All that to say, I want to study metalogic! Maybe after I get through a few more theological books that are on my list :).

Adrian C. Keister said...

Happy to whet your appetite for metalogic. It's a great subject, and really packs down your symbolic logic well.

The danger of reading classical literature and only classical is that you might get to the point where you think that this is the only good stuff, and you're not allowed to read lighter stuff. It reminds me of that quote by I think Socrates. Someone asked him why he was playing with children, and he replied something like, "If you leave a bowstring strung when you're not using it, it becomes useless." It's good to unwind with easier reading every now and then. We can also fall into the trap of reading those books we would really like for other people to know that we've read. As someone, I think Mark Twain, once said, "A classic book is
one everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read."

Please don't give up on mysteries! Mysteries are often great works of literature, especially Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, G. K. Chesterton (Father Brown), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Mysteries are great because they remind us of the mysteries of our faith. Not everything is clear as a bell. I think of the Trinity, for example, and just about stop in my tracks. What can you really ever say about something as great and holy as the Trinity?

Better to read three mediocre books than to watch a movie, however good. I don't worry terribly about what I read. I do attempt to read more than I watch. But aside from that, whatever. Don't forget that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out. Naturally, we shouldn't take that too far, as there are certainly some very unhealthy things out there it would be physically possible to read. (Romance novels, e.g., or what Gene Veith called "bodice rippers") For me, unwinding with an easy book will often just mean a book I've read before. I can unwind with Pride and Prejudice, or a Sherlock Holmes story, or even Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, strange as that may sound. It's the familiarity that makes it easier. Some books don't work that way. Les Miserables and the Bible are definitely not that way.

So now I'm rambling. But this is a blog. That's allowed, even if it's not my blog. ;-)]

In Christ.

Susan said...

Oh, just to clarify, I don't only read classic literature. In the past few years I have focused more on classics and theological books, but I'm not restricting my diet to only those genres. I'm just trying to focus on those more, since those categories greatly interest me (not just so I can say I've read them :-D) and since I find my theological background, especially, to be somewhat lacking.

I try to break from heavier books periodically. Last Christmas break I put away my tomes altogether and pulled out a few light fiction books, and I try to do the same periodically through the school year while I read other books. The great thing about light reads is they usually are quicker reads, and then they refresh me for another more weighty book. After I finish one or two of my current books, I'm going to have to revisit L.M. Montgomery. It's been a few years since I've read much of her, since I've been trying to branch out. My mom used to complain that I would read the same books over and over again, and not try new books often, and not it's the opposite. I have to remind myself to go back and reread old favorites. Truly good books only get better with additional reads :).

I haven't given up on mysteries, and I still love that genre! I was talking about eschewing the trite mysteries I used to read, like Mandie and her 50-Zillionth Exciting Adventure. Unrealistic, not very complex, etc. I still love a good mystery, if it's actually good :). I've found a few that meet that description in recent years. And some inspirational fiction really is just mystery in disguise. Cindy Martinusen, for example, and some of Beverly Lewis. Good stuff.

Anyway, all that to say, I don't intend to come across as hyper-psycho about my reads :). I like variety. I like light literature. I just think it's good to balance it. I used to read inspirational fiction, and that was about it. That's like having a diet of only cupcakes. I also read considerably more than I watch, like you. It helps to have the TV upstairs. But it's sometimes good to unwind in front of a good period film also :).

There. I rambled too.