(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Indiana


Okay, what? Shut up, evolution, this cannot actually be a bird. Are you high?

WTF Evolution: “Honoring natural selection’s most awkward creations. Go home, evolution, you are drunk.”

The wolffish is actually modeled after evolution’s cousin Frank. Evolution has always secretly hated its cousin Frank.


As we think over trial and error, we might recall that it was on this date in 1897 that the Indiana State House of Representatives passed Bill No.246 which gave pi the exact value of 3.2– a nice, round… and wrong number.

Hoosier Dr. Edwin J. Goodwin, M.D, a mathematics enthusiast, satisfied himself that he’d succeeded in “squaring the circle.”  Hoping to share with his home state the fame that would surely be forthcoming, Dr. Goodwin drafted legislation that would make Indiana the first to declare the value of pi as law, and convinced Representative Taylor I. Record, a farmer and lumber merchant, to introduce it.  As an incentive, Dr. Goodwin, who planned to copyright his “discovery,” offered in the bill to make it available to Indiana textbooks at no cost.

It seems likely that few members of the House understood the bill (many said so during the debate), crammed as it was with 19th century mathematical jargon.  Indeed, as Petr Beckmann wrote in his History of Pi, the bill contained “hair-raising statements which not only contradict elementary geometry, but also appear to contradict each other.”  (Full text of the bill here.)  Still, it sailed through the House.

As it happened, Professor Clarence Abiathar Waldo, the head of the Purdue University Mathematics Department and author of a book titled Manual of Descriptive Geometry, was in the Statehouse lobbying for the University’s budget appropriation as the final debate and vote were underway. He was astonished to find the General Assembly debating mathematical legislation.  Naturally, he listened in… and he was horrified.

On February 11 the legislation was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Temperance, which reported the bill favorably the next day, and sent it to the Senate floor for debate.

But Professor Waldo had “coached” (as he later put it) a number of key Senators on the bill, so this time its reception was different.  According to an Indianapolis News report of February 13,

…the bill was brought up and made fun of. The Senators made bad puns about it, ridiculed it and laughed over it. The fun lasted half an hour. Senator Hubbell said that it was not meet for the Senate, which was costing the State $250 a day, to waste its time in such frivolity. He said that in reading the leading newspapers of Chicago and the East, he found that the Indiana State Legislature had laid itself open to ridicule by the action already taken on the bill. He thought consideration of such a propostion was not dignified or worthy of the Senate. He moved the indefinite postponement of the bill, and the motion carried.

As one watches state governments around the U.S. enacting similarly nonsensical, unscientific legislation (e.g., here… perhaps legislators went to school on this), one might be forgiven for wondering “Where’s Waldo?”


Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 5, 2013 at 1:01 am

Columbus sailed the prairie green…

Today is Columbus Day in the United States, the day that we celebrate Columbus, Indiana.*

Among its many other virtues, Columbus– a town of just under 40,000– ranks 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design (as assessed by the American Institute of Architects) on a list that includes the likes of Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Magazine has called Columbus a “veritable museum of modern architecture.”  Visitors to Columbus can see more than 70 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally noted architects and artists, including I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Dale Chihuly and Henry Moore.  For example,

Home of the leader of Columbus’ architectural accomplishment, “The Medici of the Midwest,” J. Irwin Miller.  Designed by Eero Saarinen

* The day once commemorated a Renaissance representative of Spain, who mistook the Caribbean Islands for the South China Sea (to wit, the name “West Indies”); on consideration of his crimes and misdemeanors (see almanac entry here), it was decided to shift the celebratory focus to the rather-less-mitigatedly delightful gem of Indiana.

As we book our visits, we might recall that, on this date in 1609, Thomas Ravenscroft, still a teenager at the time, published Deuteromelia or The Seconde part of Musicks melodie — which included the words to “Three Blind Mice” (to be set to a traditional tune), probably the first song lyrics to be published in English.  Ravenscroft was the editor of the book, and the likely author of the rhyme.

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame Iulian,
Dame Iulian,
the Miller and his merry olde Wife,
shee scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife


%d bloggers like this: