Once upon a time, long ago, before all elected officials were knowledgeable, wise, and dedicated to serving the people who elected them, a majority of elected politicians decided to ease the lives of their children by simplifying the arithmetic that they were forced to learn. They legislated that from now on that pesky mysterious number known as pi would be equal to the nice round number 3. No more fractions! Especially no more fractions that were also irrational and transcendental and quite probably the work of the Devil.
The ignorant rejoiced and granted their legislators the power to enrich themselves. Homework became a dawdle. Everything went swimmingly until the older expert builders and engineers died off. The new builders started erecting beautiful circular towers, calculating tower dimensions with the new, politically correct whole number 3: the ‘PC Pi.’
The new buildings collapsed. The economy collapsed. The government shut down. Only the elected officials kept benefits, money, and a semblance of well-being. The people arose and voted them out of office.
But that was all long ago, before all elected officials became knowledgeable, wise, and dedicated to serving the people who elected them.
When I tell you this, that pi’s not algebraic,
you say ‘prove it,’ thinking that I take the pi’s.
Although I can’t, I find it elegiac
and, like Grey’s churchyard, simultaneously wise
and useless thwarting warts and evil eyes.
While it’s difficult to think that we should care
about math more than CK underwear
the latter leaves us less than meets the eye
while the former’s models muddle everywhere
because what’s algebraic is not pi.
into abstruse lines
each longer longing to affix
a meaning to creations made live by febrile minds
and for this new spring trick I thank both you and SlashDot. Well done. Though if continued cumbersome.
(The thank-you in this poem is to Gregory K. who in 2006 wrote on SlashDot: “April is National Poetry Month (and, it turns out, Math Awareness Month), and on my blog, I decided to get people writing poetry based on the Fibonacci sequence. The poems are six lines, 20 syllables long with the syllable pattern 1/1/2/3/5/8, though they can go longer, obviously. I’ve been calling ’em Fibs, and people have been writing them on pop culture, politics, math, and more.”
Gregory K.’s Blog is at gottabook.blogspot.com/2006/04/fib.html )
“Two and two makes five
for large enough values of two.”
A seagull said this yesterday.
Do you think it could be true?
I read until the math eludes my grasp.
I give up, do not go on to page two.
Page one has brought me rationals that rasp
away until their complements shine through
sufficiently to persuade me it is is true
that angles must be right to be correct.
I draw some, making straight lines intersect,
and on these axes try to classify
the books I’ve read, although when I inspect
my groups they are irrational, like pi.
A one dimensional line evolves its point
to two, a pair that like dilemma horns
go separate ways before one can anoint
either horn as better. Both are thorns
that trouble staunch denial, as they’re bound
to do, uniting, by their binding, lots
of intervening space the dye has cast
a pall upon. The space itself is sound,
although unasked for by the man God wots.
The man sees both points threatening the past
existence he’s been used to all these years.
The line the points draw leads him into fears.
What is this dye that our traveller wants to stow
(reversing “wots”) away so that its hue
can’t cry explosively and splash and glow
so brightly that it forces him to view
some to-him-unfamiliar forms of life?
What is the point escaping from the din
to which he is accustomed? Just a dot?
A dot of dotage, small in size but rife
for an expansive future, brings a grin
to Wot’s not-yet old face. He says he’ll rot
rat cheer and thanks the points not very much
for spreading out to where they’re hard to touch.