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The Simpsons and Math

The Simpsons, as you know, has a huge following. This site (thanks to Pejman) has to do with Mathematics: "Several episodes of The Simpsons contain significant mathematics that relates to material we normally cover in our classes. For these reasons, this program is an ideal source of fun ways to introduce important concepts to students, and to reduce math anxiety and motivate students in courses for non-majors."

Discussions - 7 Comments

The Simpsons is the smartest show on television. The first three years are available on DVD, and while the collecction is expensive, watching a couple episodes is a worthwhile home remedy to taking things too seriously.

I will second that. I own the first two seasons on DVD, and every time I re-watch an episode, I catch at least three things that I missed the last time around. The Simpsons has accomplished what few other tv shows (or movies or music for that matter) have done. It manages to appeal to folks at almost every age and intellectual level.

Incidentally, speaking of pop culture, I must say that I am AMAZED that there has not been a single post on this blog having to do with the new Matrix film. Perhaps Schramm and company aren’t fans of Keanu Reeves and hot chicks in black leather, but the second film is absolutely PACKED with references to Plato (specifically the cave allegory), causality, determinism, etc... (as well as more references to Budhism and Christianity.)

The Matrix was a good show, I haven’t watched reloaded yet so I can’t qualify as an avid fan. But I agree, someone could write some interesting commentary on its themes. I guess many people don’t take a movie that features chicks in leather seriously. By the time you add in the goof ball Keanu Reeves (ever notice how he plays Ohioans in many films?) and of course stunning special effects there is not much more that one picks up on. Perhaps there is a two fold meaning to the Matrix (Staussian conspiracy?). Of course there is the obvious red pill, blue pill. But perhaps there is some irony in all of the flash and special effects. If one played around with the idea that Americans are metaphysically satiated and are experiencing boredom from sensory overload...and tied this back to how the matrix is presented... just maybe you might be on to something... Of course you could also bring up the question of whether or not you would want to simply download an education... The matrix is very modern, almost transhumanist(I am going to use this word until someone other than me looks into this movement.)

There are no new posts today... I think Schramm & Co. are busy protesting. After all, Sat, May 31 is World No Tobacco Day In honor of this day they are probably enjoying Joe Camel or Churchill cut Cigars.

James Lileks, that connosieur of geek culture, wrote a funny review of Matrix Reloaded. The short version is this: "Attention, Wachowski Brothers: put down the bong and step away from the script."

Lileks’ critique, while marginally amusing, manages to miss the point of the film(s) almost completely. A couple of thoughts on his "review."

I’m always amazed at people like Lileks who will accept one or more ridiculous premises only to niggle away at some trivial detail. In this case, it’s his condemnation of the Zion scenes. OK, let’s think about this Mr. Lileks... You will accept the notion that human beings are being used to power machines and that "this world" (the world that we all think is the real world) is just a computer program designed to keep our minds occupied while machines sap the life out of us. But at the same time you reject the idea of Zion, an underground city? Years ago, I remember reading an article that suggested that moviegoers, if willing to accept one ridiculous premise, must be willing to accept any and all ridiculous premises tossed at them in the course of that same context. In other words, it’s one thing to complain if "Millers Crossing" ends in an alien invasion of Earth, but to quibble over the possibility that a Zion could exist in a world where far more preposterous things take place is sheer lunacy.

Incidentally, I don’t know how one says that he/she likes the Matrix films but ignores the subtextual meanings. The subtextual meanings ARE the story, Mr. Lileks.

Just my two cents...

PS: To answer Mr. Lileks last question, Matrix fans have long been classified as NEOphytes.

Oh, by the way, as a testament to just how much Lileks doesn’t "get it," I draw your attention to this paragraph of his review:

By way of demonstrating what an evil SOB the Marovingian is, we see him make a woman eat a slice of cake that makes her . . . do what? Explode? Speak in tongues? Fly out the window? No: it makes her get up from her table and go to the bathroom. He’s invented cybernetic laxative!

Anyone with even a modicum of intelligence who has seen the film, knows that it wasn’t indigestion that sends the woman to the bathroom. Given the amount of discussion that the Merovingian (note that it’s spelled with an "e," not an "a") character was, I find it amusing that Lileks should elect to focus on indigestion, of all things. :)

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