Congress Loves Irrational Numbers

Taking a break from their grueling schedule of grinding America into the third world, the House of Representatives took time out to tackle one of the most important issues facing out country today.

Ya can’t make it up: House praises pi

With the world swirling about it, the House took a moment Thursday to honor pi, the Greek letter symbolizing that great constant in mathematics representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

An irrational number that has been calculated to more than 1 trillion digits, pi is a concept not totally foreign to today’s Washington. But in this case, the goal was to promote efforts by the National Science Foundation to improve math education in the United States, especially in the critical fourth to eighth grades.

Rounded off, pi equates to 3.14, hence the designation of March 14 as Pi Day under the resolution. Informal celebrations have been held around the country for at least 20 years, but Thursday’s 391-10 vote is the first time Congress has joined the party.

“I’m kind of geeked up about it,” Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) told POLITICO. “It’s crazy, but I’m a whole lot more excited about that than congratulating the winner of last year’s Rose Bowl.

“I’m not making this up. I have been fascinated by pi since I was a kid. It blows my mind. It’s lovely. The fact that it’s sort of this infinite number. I just think it’s this magical thing. … There’s a real beauty to mathematics.”

Engineering and technology companies backed the effort, and like most things in the House, there’s a San Francisco angle. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has pressed hard for Congress to do more to promote science, and the San Francisco Exploratorium, in her home city, takes credit for the first Pi Day celebration in 1988, with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces and then consuming fruit pies.

See also:
National Pi Day? Congress makes it official
Any way you slice it, pi’s transcendental
Who would vote against Pi day?
National Science Foundation

Hey, whatever keeps them distracted from wasting more taxpayer money. Or maybe they’re not distracted at all . . .

H. RES. 224

Supporting the designation of Pi Day, and for other purposes.

Whereas the Greek letter (Pi) is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter;

Whereas the ratio Pi is an irrational number, which will continue infinitely without repeating, and has been calculated to over one trillion digits;

Whereas Pi is a recurring constant that has been studied throughout history and is central in mathematics as well as science and engineering;

Whereas mathematics and science are a critical part of our children’s education, and children who perform better in math and science have higher graduation and college attendance rates;

Whereas aptitude in mathematics, science, and engineering is essential for a knowledge-based society;

Whereas, according to the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics, American children in the 4th and 8th grade were outperformed by students in other countries including Taiwan, Singapore, Russia, England, South Korea, Latvia, and Japan;

Whereas since 1995 the United States has shown only minimal improvement in math and science test scores;

Whereas by the 8th grade, American males outperform females on the science portion of the TIMSS survey, especially in Biology, Physics, and Earth Science, and the lowest American scores in math and science are found in minority and impoverished school districts;

Whereas America needs to reinforce mathematics and science education for all students in order to better prepare our children for the future and in order to compete in a 21st Century economy;

Whereas the National Science Foundation has been driving innovation in math and science education at all levels from elementary through graduate education since its creation 59 years ago;

Whereas mathematics and science can be a fun and interesting part of a child’s education, and learning about Pi can be an engaging way to teach children about geometry and attract them to study science and mathematics; and

Whereas Pi can be approximated as 3.14, and thus March 14, 2009, is an appropriate day for `National Pi Day’: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) supports the designation of a `Pi Day’ and its celebration around the world;

(2) recognizes the continuing importance of National Science Foundation’s math and science education programs; and

(3) encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.

See also:
National Center for Education Statistics
2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

/ruh roh, I smell many billions more in additional wasted good money after bad about to be thrown into the gaping maw of the teachers’ unions

Springtime In Gaza

The usual suspects are out and about enforcing the new U.S. foreign policy, sucks to be Israel in the Obama age.

In Gaza, US lawmakers push for progress

Three US lawmakers, including Sen. John Kerry, visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the first trip there by US congressmen in eight years and an indication, according to Rep. Brian Baird, of a change in the US approach to Gaza.

Baird (D-Wash) toured Gaza in the morning together with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn), Congress’s first Muslim member. They were followed in the afternoon by Kerry (D-Mass), who heads the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.

The visits, which were coordinated with Israel, were organized by the United Nations. Except for rare occasions, US embassy and consular officials have been prohibited by Washington from entering Gaza since the 2003 killing of three US security contractors.

Hamas ‘sends Barack Obama letter’

The Palestinian group Hamas has sent a letter addressed to the US president via a US politician visiting Gaza, a senior UN official has said.

UN relief agency chief Karen Abu Zayd told the BBC the letter had been received by the UN and passed on.

She did not say if Senator John Kerry had accepted it, and there were no details about the letter’s contents.

The US views Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, as a terrorist organisation and will not deal with it.

A former presidential candidate, Mr Kerry was visiting Gaza with US congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison in the first such visit to the Hamas-run Strip since 2007.

Rep. Ellison says he isn’t assigning blame, but finds destruction hard to understand

Rep. Keith Ellison, one of the first high-level U.S. officials to enter the Gaza Strip in more than three years, said he is haunted by the scenes of destruction from Israel’s recent military incursion.

“I have an image of a woman sitting in the rubble of her home burned in my head,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a cell phone interview Thursday on his way back to an Israeli check-point.

/gee, I wonder if Keith has the Hamas Charter and it’s call for the destruction of Israel burned in his head, and whether he agrees with it?