Michigan being one of the last states to start school — by law, it cannot start before Labor Day, the rather thin legislative legacy of my last state representative — it’s among the last to finish, too. The teachers have to oversee their unruly herds for 4.5 more days, including today, and I don’t envy them, because the corrals are in danger of being kicked to pieces. In keeping with the livestock theme, I hope they were all issued cattle prods after Memorial Day.
No, that’s not fair. The end of the school year is as important as any other part of it, even if the tone is distinctly different. Yesterday’s science class was the time-honored Mentos-and-Diet Coke experiment, and next week in math class, they’ll be watching a movie.
“What movie?” the cinéaste parent queried.
“I don’t know.”
“A math movie?” I pressed.
“Who would make a movie about math?” she replied.
Oh, child. How young you are. I’d sign a parental R-rating
waver waiver [Yoinks! — ed.] if the teacher screened Pi. Or “Good Will Hunting,” or “A Beautiful Mind,” for that matter. “Stand and Deliver,” “Proof” — there’s no shortage of possibilities, but my guess is, they’ll probably watch something bland and PG, and it’ll likely be “The Blind Side.”
Are there any documentaries about math and its close relationship with madness? Surely that ground has been plowed. Ted Kaczynski was a mathematician, remember, a PhD from Michigan. Go Blue. Many years ago, the New Yorker ran a long profile of two deeply eccentric Russian brothers, one of whom lives in an apartment where they do nothing but tend to a supercomputer that calculates pi, endlessly.
How long will it take Google to find it for me after I type “russian brothers who calculate pi” into my search window? Point-one-seven seconds. Some Russians used their math prowess to more profitable ends. You want a movie? Your head could explode just thinking about stuff like this:
Around the three-hundred-millionth decimal place of pi, the digits go 88888888—eight eights pop up in a row. Does this mean anything? It appears to be random noise. Later, ten sixes erupt: 6666666666. What does this mean? Apparently nothing, only more noise. Somewhere past the half-billion mark appears the string 123456789. It’s an accident, as it were. “We do not have a good, clear, crystallized idea of randomness,” Gregory said. “It cannot be that pi is truly random. Actually, a truly random sequence of numbers has not yet been discovered.”
Not long after this article was published, “Northern Exposure” had an episode in which a young woman blows through Cicely, Alaska, doing this very same work. She is lovely and sane, not Russian and a little bonkers. Which goes to show “Law & Order” writers aren’t the only ones who rip from the headlines.
More math/movie strangeness: Schlock director Paul Verhoeven has a doctorate in math. I hope the class won’t be watching “Showgirls.”
Does today have a theme? Let’s just cut to the damn bloggage, eh?
This South Carolina Senate situation gets weirder by the moment:
Indeed, in a three-hour interview, the unemployed military veteran could not name a single specific thing he’d done to campaign. Yet more than 100,000 South Carolinians voted for him on Tuesday, handing him nearly 60 percent of the vote and a resounding victory over Vic Rawl, a former judge who has served four terms in the state legislature.
“I’m the Democratic Party nominee,” Greene says in the interview at his father’s home on a lonely stretch of rural highway in central South Carolina. “The people have spoken. The people of South Carolina have spoken. The people of South Carolina have spoken. We have to be pro-South Carolina. The people of South Carolina have spoken. We have to be pro-South Carolina.”
Someone punch that guy’s reset button.
A strange piece of e-mail arrived last night, from “Information Technician,” i.e. service -at- vh4rs.com. Subject line: The information you requested. No links within. No attachments. WHOIS lookup ambiguous. The contents of the e-mail, in its entirety:
Recipe: Overnight Fruit Salad
1 small head cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
1 15oz can pineapple chunks, well drained
2 11oz cans mandarin orange sections, drained
2 cups seedless green grapes
1/3 cups light raisins
1 1/2 cups cubed Edam cheese
1 8oz carton lemon yogurt
1 cup dairy sour cream
1. Place cabbage on bottom of large salad bowl.
2. Top with pineapple chunks, mandarin orange sections, grapes and raisins. Sprinkle cheese atop.
3. Combine yogurt and sour cream; spread over salad, sealing to edge of bowl
4. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. If desired, garnish with lemon and lime twist, curly endive, and a grape.
I wonder if this is some sort of extremely baroque virus. I wonder, if I prepare and consume this fruit salad, if I will be turned into a zombie. Whatever, I think two cups of dressing sounds like way too much, even for this much cabbage and fruit. What’s the verdict of the crowd?
Whatever, it’s time for me to get a-movin’. Second wind is in progress! The weekend awaits!
UPDATE: No, wait, one more, for any of your Fort Wayners who recall Charles’ Pugh’s brief time as a TV reporter in town. Now that he’s council president here in the D, he’s moved on to costing taxpayers even more money than his salary and the city car he wrecked his first month in office. For his bodyguard. Every Detroit resident I know manages to find their way around the city at all times of day without hired muscle, using naught but their common sense. Not this waste of oxygen. I ask you.