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Billions and billions

Billions and billions

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 21:34 by Ananth in response to curse your trickery, sagan

Little Yuko is pretty adorable. 

Fair warning: the following paragraph is basically going to end in my endorsement of the Magnet program I was in as a high schooler. I had the same interest in dinosaurs and space as a lot of kids growing up, but I don't think my interest in science got more focused until I reached high school. I was in the math/science/computer science Magnet program at Montgomery Blair HS, and - despite my ultimate choice(s) of occupation - it was immensely useful and I wouldn't trade it for anything. One of the highlights was receiving an Honorable Mention in NASA's SSIP contest, in which you had to design an orbital spaceship that could deploy and retrieve probes from the surface of Mars - a daunting prospect for a high school student. I wouldn't have even known the contest existed, let alone had the guts to enter and then the drive and research savvy to succeed without the Magnet program and the teachers therein. If you're a parent or student in the MD area, it may be worth your while (I will be honest - the program can be brutal, but in the long run I have found it to be worthwhile). I have heard it is facing budget cuts and harder times, so if you feel the need to donate to such a program the link is here. To this day I spend a couple of days a week trawling the internet for new science news. My excuse is that I'm going to do a science fiction/future fiction project at some point, but really - what excuse do you need to keep up with the latest science and technology? 

Here's a great review by Nina Stone about JW: V1 titled "Romancing the Stone: I'll Take the Dream Curry" - I am admittedly biased because it is a very flattering review, but it is written from an especially interesting perspective - I got the sense that it wasn't being analyzed just as comics but also as media. 

Aaron is visiting again! We are having good times, by which I mean we all spend our time in our respective offices (Aaron is set up in the dining room) and occasionally Aaron says something funny. It is a total worktrain in this apartment. Speaking of which, gotta get back to it! See you next week!


Yuko's Halloween Costume

Comment by Matt (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 21:36

Since she apparently can already pull off Sagan hair, did you just wear a suit and say "billions and billions" a lot? Or was there more to it than that?

Yuko's Pupils

Comment by Daniel Solis (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 21:44

Apparently, Yuko would later lose her pupils from reading her books too closely.


Comment by Aido Thu, 11/11/2010 - 23:11

These days, my glasses are so thick they're opaque. 

Long haired Yuko looked

Comment by Andrew (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 21:52

Long haired Yuko looked pretty cute.

Hey! I'm a high schooler

Comment by Appreciative magnet student (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 22:16

Hey! I'm a high schooler from MCPS (Richard Montgomery IB magnet) and just wanted to say that I'm really pleased you endorsed/enjoyed the math magnet. I think it's really cool that your years at Blair still influence your life, even in a completely different field- and it's also very encouraging for someone who is in a magnet program right now to hear that this kind of education is useful in the future. Thanks for an awesome comic :)

I know quite a few folks who

Comment by Ananth Thu, 11/11/2010 - 23:59

I know quite a few folks who were in IB - that is also a great program! Many of them went into policy, among other things. I gave it a lot of thought!


Comment by Camui (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 12:46

International Baccalaureate? I may go to a school with that system. How is it in general?


Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Sun, 11/14/2010 - 15:42

It gives you a lot of opportunities in every field (there is a group working on hydrogen-fuel cells this semester with people from different countries), and plenty of scholarships but be PREPARED. There is a HUGE workload, but if you can handle it, it is most definitely worth it.

The MaCS program at W. L. Mackenzie in Toronto wasn't too bad...

Comment by Dan (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 22:27

That was a great book! I didn't read it until I was in second-or-third year of high school, but it was still great then. (And still is even if you're older!)

My 11-year-old-turn-on-to-science book was "Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Big Blast of Science". I still remember that book doing more for my science-minded education than 6 years of public school. It wasn't until late-high school that I felt I was learning more new stuff about the world.

Oh hey, my friend goes to Blair!

Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 22:45

Unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to get into Montgomery Blair or Richard Montgomery, but I'm enrolled at the Rockville high pre-IB program so hey, I guess that counts for something! :D

But I digress. Even if I didn't get into a fancy-smancy smart school like MB or RM, I'm still glad I'm able to participate in a program that challenges me in a way that's potent enough to get me into a good college.

And in all honesty, science is my worst subject. Don't get me wrong; I love it to death. It's just that science doesn't love me.

Oh, don't get me wrong!

Comment by Ananth Fri, 11/12/2010 - 00:02

Oh, don't get me wrong! Ultimately the most important thing is drive and hard work. I just found myself realizing how the Magnet program affected me in particular years after I'd graduated, and I figured I'd share. :)

Romancing the Stone: Stones need love too

Comment by CerealKiller8 (not verified) Thu, 11/11/2010 - 23:36

I have been reading JW for well over a year now [even have a shirt, courtesy of my girlfriend emailing Ananth about the Zoolology line for an anniversary gift], and I just wanted to say a few things about this latest post.

First, I enjoyed Ms. Stone's review of JW because, really, it is nice to see a work such as this get recognition for how marvelous it truly is. With Yuko's eye-catching style and Ananth's spot on observations, I enjoy each new update [even the filler], and I'm sure many others share my feelings.

I also attended a science focused high school [though ours was based on the US Navy and Oceanography/Engineering pursuits], and I will endorse/donate to any program that encourages future generations to embrace the sciences.

Next, I just want to say despite my initial education in hard sciences, I too ended up a student of the arts [3D animation in my case], and enjoy seeing how others have prospered on similar paths.

Finally, all comics with John are my favorites, and if you ever find yourselves down in Philadelphia, know you have a friend down here who will show you around if needed [especially if you want to see the Rocky stairs].

Keep up the good work,

p.s. sorry for the novel haha

The Ws that stretched around the block

Comment by Alain (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 01:13

This has got to be the cutest intro to Science that I have ever seen. The "W"s in my AWWWWWWWW... went stretching around the block, and the blocks around me are several kilometres long.

Former RMHS Student

Comment by Chris (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 01:30

I also grew up in Montgomery County, and I really do think that it's probably one of the best school systems in the country. I was lucky to be able to take as many programming courses as I was in high school, and it really stuck. I'm soon going to graduate with a degree in computer science, which was all sparked because of the things I learned when I was in high school. I went back to Richard Montgomery a year or so back, and my old teacher told me that there wasn't money in the budget for her classes any more, and it really breaks my heart to hear that other kids won't be able to experience what I got to when I was growing up, it really shaped the person that I am. I really think it's great that you're asking people to give back to the montgomery county school system, because I agree, they really need it.

I think if I had to choose

Comment by Ruth (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 01:31

I think if I had to choose I'd pick a Carl Sagan book over Anne McAffrey's. But hmmm, dramatastic dragon fantasies vs the scientific musings of an eccentric genius.... tough call.

You guys are so unintentionally cool.

Comment by Robert Cruz (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 03:13

In very early comic page of yours I noticed the creator of Scott Pilgrim in one strip, and now you guys have Dresden Codac in your dining room. You guys are so unintentionally cool.

Have to agree with the

Comment by Santiagok (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 07:53

Have to agree with the cuteness of yuko´s hair.
Happened the same to me, but with Dinotopia, so I went with dinosaurs, not science. :P great johnny wander!! I want your book but I live like... erm... en Patagonia, so... well.. snuff...

I love science...

Comment by EiceBleu (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 09:11

I love science, but I didn't really know that till I got to college. I live in a land where science is considered suspicious and evil, where the e-word was barely mentioned in the classroom, and where you were supposed to learn your origins in Sunday school.

Texas. >_<

Now I just have to find a way to finance my Biochemistry degree.

um, I dissent

Comment by Jimmy (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 21:44

Not to be a dick, but I went to religious schools here in Texas all through HS and got a great scientific education. Sorry you got screwed over, but 1) I doubt the veracity of your claim; 2) even if your particular anecdote is accurate, that's no reason to bash the state that's home to the Johnson Space Center, the petrochemical industry (enjoy plastics and medicines much?), and more green energy than California (bwahaha, etc).


Just wanted to say, back in

Comment by Bocaj (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 10:28

Just wanted to say, back in high school I was in MCPS. Had some good friends go to Blair Magnet. They seemed to love it.

im surprised she could even

Comment by coughman (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 10:45

im surprised she could even reach those shelves!
(short-jokes hoooooooooooo)

(im sorry)

I climb the shelves

Comment by Camui (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 12:48

when there aren't any stools. I'm light enough that the bookshelves don't topple.
*4'7 14 year old. Tinyyyyyyy.)


Comment by Camui (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 12:50

apparently your magnet course was much, much more awesome than the one hereabouts though. The magnet courses here are just hard and involve lots of all-nighters. Not much special awardystuff.


Comment by MrE (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 14:27

It's so weird thinking about how close you guys used to live around me. I currently live in Rockville, and have friends who go to Blair o-o
Of course, I wouldn't have gotten in at Blair >_>

House of Comics!

Comment by Jessica (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 14:28

Does that mean Dresden Codak is going to update soon (a question I think pondered by philosophers since the Hellenistic era)?

Or are you guys working on a group project?

Oh man, I felt so tricked

Comment by Teresa (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 15:05

Oh man, I felt so tricked too when I found that book in my dad's library (Sagan is his hero). I liked the MC Escher illustration on the inside cover though.

Dragonriders of Pern

Comment by Cathy (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 15:49

That was pretty much my favorite book series in grade school. Nice taste in lit. ^_^

Love your work!

Comment by Anna (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 16:46

I discovered your comic about a week ago, and it quickly became one of my favorites. I love the art style and the concise, funny writing. So I offer my kudos and my thanks for such an enjoyable comic.

Also, if you'll indulge me in what is almost certainly a stupid question: is the thing drawn on Yuko's right ear an earring? I don't know what else it would be, but I didn't notice anything in some of the real-life pictures posted, so I got a bit curious.

But, uh, anyway...yeah, cool comic.

Dragonriders of Pern =

Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 16:59

Dragonriders of Pern = LOVELOVELOVELOVE


Comment by Razor (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 17:00

The review was very thoughtful, and unearthed some things I haven't thought about before...

Hee, do you think that someday there'll be a Johnny Wander movie? XD If so you should all play yourselves. $_$

I love Pern!

Comment by Crow (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 18:06

Yay! I've read only the first 2 books but it is sorta hard to understand them at 7th grade.


Comment by shelby (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 18:37

I was in the Global Ecology Studies Program at Poolesville High School. We also had a smcs program but i think on a smaller scale.


Comment by Pumpkiz (not verified) Tue, 11/23/2010 - 17:33

I've heard stories about how the first year SMCS kids didn't have computers for the first semester or so of comp sci, but at least nowadays SMCS has gotten bigger. Specially with the addition of the new building specifically for these subjects.

Hmm the only teacher i know who used to teach at Blair before moving to Poolesville is Mr. Curran, I wonder if anybody knows him.


Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 18:39

I'm in grade 12 at Thomas Jefferson HS for Science & Tech and I love it, but the newspaper doesn't: the Washington Post takes a heavily anti-TJ stance, and a debate about the school is currently raging in the editorials. In the midst of that, I'm so glad to hear you speak up for magnet schools!


Comment by dekinai (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 19:50

whoa, Pern... I read a LOT of those books when I was a kid, but never thought I'd ever see a reference to them anywhere, by anybody! Oh, and I too love whenever John shows up and makes the Stern Face.

Montgomery Blair Magnets?

Comment by Tashari (not verified) Fri, 11/12/2010 - 21:07

Oh really! Did you ever hear about a guy named "Waldo"?
(That stairwell story, apparently it didn't happen that way.)

I haven't! But I was a

Comment by Ananth Sat, 11/13/2010 - 09:22

I haven't! But I was a little oblivious in high school ... 

Aw.. I hope my husband won't

Comment by Tashari (not verified) Tue, 11/16/2010 - 09:51

Aw.. I hope my husband won't be too sad to learn he wasn't as famous as he seemed to think.


Comment by T-Mo (not verified) Sat, 11/13/2010 - 01:42

My speed dial preview for JW got stuck on one of the Garies comics and it's been creeping me out so much that I had to manually refresh it so they'd go away hehe
Love the comic! Keep up the good work!


Comment by Berterus (not verified) Sat, 11/13/2010 - 23:04

The tags on this comic made me laugh :D The dawning realization that you seriously have a tag for Carl Sagan

MD Magnet

Comment by Ruth (not verified) Sun, 11/14/2010 - 08:39

There are also Magnet programs at RiverHill and Long Reach high schools in Howard County.

I like Yuko's

Comment by Mason (not verified) Sun, 11/14/2010 - 16:22

I like Yuko's A-MISTAKE-HAS-BEEN-MADE face

If you're still searching for dragon books, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (cheesy fairytale name I know) are probably the most hilarious dragon/fantasy novels I ever read by mistake.

:O I'm in a MoCo magnet

Comment by k (not verified) Sun, 11/14/2010 - 17:43

:O I'm in a MoCo magnet program too! Not one of the math/science ones, though. Oh no. Not smart enough for that stuff, haha. Global Ecology, like shelby up there. Small world much? xD

Remember back when kids

Comment by Samm Neiland (not verified) Mon, 11/15/2010 - 05:57

Remember back when kids actually read books?


*sigh* I've gone and depressed myself now.

blair magnet

Comment by Mindy O (not verified) Tue, 11/16/2010 - 01:55

This comic is very much loved by alumni and students of blair magnet too :)
amazing sense of community - critical mass of really curious students, all building computers together or passing science articles around like comic books - and amazing teachers - totally engaged, challenging the students, phenomenal curriculum...
I'm in my third year as a compsci major and I'm still startled by the realization of 'oh, didn't Piper show us that?' in class. I feel unbelievably well prepared from just the basic required cmsc classes in the magnet (and I had dropped cmsc as soon as I could in favor of the bio electives - cmsc was not my strong suit, and I was pre-med all the way, baby!)
I grew helluva lot in the magnet program and yeah, wouldn't trade it for anything.

something nifty - I don't remember if this was the foundation's direction or bunday's interest in particular, but bunday wants to raise money to send the mag teachers for more training and development (you know, invest in your assets, right?) which is something I'd love to get behind.
I think the foundation also supports teachers who are writing/developing their curricula?
Anyways. Two things I strongly support.

:D Firstly - YAY YUKO,

Comment by Sary (not verified) Tue, 11/16/2010 - 22:25

:D Firstly - YAY YUKO, DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN. I -still- love those books, and I'm 22 now > 3>

Also, Anath - I think you should get involved with It's a site run by my boyfriends' best friend. Basically users submit articles, links, pictures, etc. all having to do with science [we even have a science fiction section in the works] - and the result is a mish-mash of sciency stuff in which we're interested. For example, I submit a lot of stuff about animals; and my boyfriend submits a lot about space. Even if you don't join us, I think you'd enjoy browsing it :3

Yuko and Sagan!

Comment by Alice (not verified) Thu, 11/18/2010 - 00:58

I didn't even realize Carl Sagan did books!
I was just introduced to his Pale Blue Dot only a week or so ago and while I haven't had the time to finish it, I'm already impressed. (though I wouldn't dare giving it to my 11yo sister!)

Oh, and 11yo Yuko is SOOOOO cute! I know there was a warning some time back about strangers hugging her at cons (if I have it right) but if she's as cute now as she appears to have been then I dunno if I could resist!

My mom went to Blair as

Comment by Anonymous (not verified) Thu, 11/18/2010 - 13:43

My mom went to Blair as well...around the same time as Goldie Hawn and Connie Chung! Shout out to my homies from Silver Spring!


Comment by JustinFraggle (not verified) Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:32

I love how many Sagan comics you make. I, too, got into S(agan)cience by reading Dragons. It remains my favorite. He speaks to laymans, and a layman am I. I love Sagan, and any friend of my friends...


Comment by JamesMusicus (not verified) Fri, 01/07/2011 - 23:24