Comments: Happy Subtly Creepy Cartoon New Year!

Going in a different direction with the blog this year, I see. I guess opposing totalitarian doom is pretty futile.

Maybe the cartoonist doesn't know the answer. He seems to be bitter against math.

Posted by Marcus at January 2, 2010 09:03 AM

i wonder who knocked out the son's teeth.

also i find algebra just confuses me, so i don't use it. i never in my life have been able to cancel properly. we know that two of the factors of the father's-age-in-5-years are 3 and 4, since he says the number is (ostensibly without fractions) the result of multiplying other numbers by 3 and 4. since we know that the gap in the son's ages is 7 years (from -1 to +6), that means another factor of the father's-age-in-5-years is 7. multiply the three known prime factors (3*4*7) to get 84, the father's-age-in-5-years.

Posted by oops at January 2, 2010 09:14 AM

Yes, I get son = 22, dad = 79 too -- though perhaps we've both forgotten algebra.

I suppose that if I were in a more charitable mood I'd call it "a tedious bit of surreality" rather than "a small masterpiece of alarming creepiness," but I'm not in a charitable mood at the moment, so creepy it is.

Nice catch!

Posted by nashtbrutusandshort at January 2, 2010 09:47 AM

Yeah, I thought that couldn't be right the first time I went through it. lol.

And in the spirit of loling at bad math skills, I'll show my work:

4x = 3(x+7)
where x is the son's age minus one
divide both sides by three
1/3x + x = x+7
divide both sides by x
1/3x = 7
multiply by three
x = 21
and one to get the son's age
multiply by 4 and subtract five to get the father's age.

At once I feel both immensely clever and just a tad bit stupid. Yay, me!

Posted by Svlad Jelly at January 2, 2010 10:04 AM

This is a systems of equations problem, where A = B, B= C, therefore C = A and we can eliminate one of the variables.

First statement:

5+y = 4(x-1)

Second statement:

5 + y = 3(x + 6)


3(x + 6) = 4(x -1)

Solve for X, then plug back into either original equation to get Y.

x=22, y=79

Posted by kylem at January 2, 2010 01:12 PM

I didn't get these numbers, and now I see why - I interpreted the father's second statement differently.

I too get 4(x-1) = y + 5

Y is current dad's age, x is current son's age.

Second equation:

Because I thought he was saying the "in five years" part applied only to equation 1 because it was in the first speech bubble. So my second y is a stand alone y, not y+5. But I see how you could read it such that the "in five years" should be distributed to both equations. I wasn't sure about that and now I see that the default interpretation was not the one I chose.

Otherwise, you get 27 for son, 99 for dad, even worse!

Posted by magoo at January 2, 2010 01:55 PM

Jon, what compelled you to work it out?

Posted by Aaron Datesman at January 2, 2010 03:24 PM

No. It's just depressingly unfunny. An exaltation of the new age of the gleefully uneddicated....

Posted by 99 at January 2, 2010 05:56 PM

From the same site, I liked this one better:

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at January 2, 2010 06:49 PM

Track, Trig, Trip.......Trooper. Whoa... I get it.... It's a trick question. It's not his son-- it's his son's son, according to Andrew Sullivan.

Next case.

Posted by Sherlock at January 3, 2010 06:20 AM

Track, Trig, Trip.......Trooper. Whoa... I get it.... It's a trick question. It's not his son-- it's his son's son, according to Andrew Sullivan.

Next case.

Posted by Sherlock at January 3, 2010 06:21 AM


Your method of solving part of the problem with factors fascinates me. Were you taught that, or did you pick it up on your own? If the latter, do you remember how? (But don't you still need simple algebra to determine the son's age?)

mistah charley

I prefer that mouse cartoon too. cute and vulgar is one of my favorite combinations


I bet that's a good andrew sullivan joke that I don't get, which is a bummer (to date myself).

Posted by N E at January 3, 2010 11:20 AM

To see it on a graphing calculator:
Happy New Year!

Posted by Murfyn at January 3, 2010 12:19 PM

The kid is 9 and dad is 32.

Posted by shadou at January 3, 2010 01:52 PM

That's right! Just throw out all the math and everything the dad says in the third panel and look at them pichers... except... I can't remember... are kids still missing any front teeth at nine?

Posted by 99 at January 3, 2010 06:46 PM

This is really beginning to remind me of Hofstadter's MU Puzzle... except I don't think that was the cartoonist's intent....

Posted by 99 at January 3, 2010 06:51 PM