Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cartoon fun

As I mentioned I'm a big fan of the work Richard Muller did in turning a non-majors physics course at Berkeley into a very popular and well respected course called called 'Physics for Future Presidents'. He has recently come out with a textbook with this title and, if you are interested in how an atomic bomb works, or in the future of solar power, you can check out his website and the lectures on Google Video.

However on one pedagogical issue I have to respectfully disagree. In the 'Contents, preface and pedagogy' section of the textbook he writes:
'I avoid cartoons and other images that suggest the student is "just a kid".'

Well as you've doubtless noticed I love cartoons. They aren't there to entertain the kid in you, they are there because they act as a sort of mirror that reflects back an exaggerated version of societies concerns, fears and opinions. A good political cartoon can skewer a politician much more effectively than much lengthier editorial columns. For the best in political cartooning check out Daryl Cagle's webpage where he collects all the daily editorial and political cartoons and indexes them by category.

Society is also reflected back in some of the strips in the funny pages. The ongoing, and usually interminable, soap-opera strips sometimes throw up surprising diseases stories. Months ago Rex Morgan M.D. started a tedious MRSA (Methicilin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) storyline that has only just wrapped up. I just checked and this storyline started sometime back in March. ..

I was reminded of all this because Mark Trail this weekend was reminding us to check our animals for fleas lest the Bubonic Plague visit us again.

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