An ACT Debuting Mathematical Constant Proffered for the Education and Edification of the State of Michigan Gratis and Without any Royalties Whatsoever Upon Its Acceptance and Adoption by the Legislature of the Same.

1. WHEREAS Mathematical Amateur Monthy has praised the method employed by J. Dewing Woodard for trisecting the angle as “unique.”*

2. WHEREAS the Michigan Society of First-Grade Mathematics Teachers has noted that J. Dewing Woodard’s method of doubling the cube is “peerless.”**

3. And WHEREAS the Lansing Compass Club has, upon testing J. Dewing Woodard’s innovation for squaring the circle, declared it “like nothing we have ever seen.”***

4. BE IT ENACTED on this twenty-sixth of November, 1915, that the Legistlature of the State of Michigan in Congress Assembled does hereby APPROVE and ADOPT J. Dewing Woodard methods.

5. And BE IT ENACTED that, henceforth, they shall be applied to the financial and pension management plan(s) of this State’s greatest settlement, the City of Detroit, in perpetuity that their genius and foresight may be as evident in a hundred years hence as they are today.

Inspired by the song ‘3.14159265’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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“It’s not cheating,” I said to myself. “I came out here for digital detox, and I’m doing that. I just need a video camera, that’s all.”

More towers of rocks had appeared overnight on the beach, but the high winds had scoured away any footprints in the loose sand and they would have been lost in all the prints I’d left knocking them down in any event. The gate was still locked, and I couldn’t see any tire tracks.

A little video was all I needed to prove my suspicion that some local good ‘ole boys were having some cheaper-than-basic-cable fun with me.

Setting up my laptop just right and getting the recording settings for its built-in webcam took some time, and I found myself moving in a haze of wandering focus. I could have used my cell phone, I suppose, but that would have required improvising a stand and scaring up an extension cord. When I looked up at the kitchen clock, I’d spent longer on the thing than I had thought. But it would be worth it for my peace of mind, to finally know that the “mystery” of the stacked rocks that Oscar had warned me not to concern myself with.

The webcam ran perfectly, and I’d set it to change to a special low-light mode at dusk. Satisfied, I turned back to the kitchen to gab a snack. Instead, I instinctively backed against the opposite wall in a panic.

Drawers had been emptied, cupboards ransacked, and the resulting detritus piled throughout the kitchen. Piled just like the rocks, as much as different shape and texture would allow. Deeply engrossed in my digital cheating, I hadn’t heard a thing.

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Irma Cook, State DMV Employee #4227, was responsible for license plate renewals and registration for Deerton and greater Tecumseh County. Ordinarily, hers was a sedate job, and that was the way she liked it. Irma had ossified into a comfortable living and had only 5 years until she retired on a generous government pension, which she planned to spend as far away from snowy rural Michigan as she could.

But that had been before the Great License Plate Switch of 2007. The dumbass governor had decided that the most important problem facing Michigan wasn’t Detroit rotting from the inside or the explosion of meth labs (both figuratively and literally) in the state or the fact that the Mitten hadn’t created a new job since 1976. No, license plates were a far more pressing (and taxable!) issue. The beautiful “Lake Superior Blue” plates, with their shining white letters on an azure background, had been around since 1982 and had–in Irma’s opinion–been a welcome change from the cluttered and generic plates issues by other states. You could always pick a Michigan plate out of a crowd without even reading it.

No more. Decreeing that it was imperative to have the state’s URL on the places (michigan.gov, which didn’t exactly take a UM med school degree to figure out), said dumbass governor had required Michiganders to trade in their Lake Superior Blue for Boring White With A URL On It. For a fee, of course, that would add a few million bucks to the tattered mitten’s depleted coffers. So everyone, even if they liked their old plate, had to buy a new one with new numbers on it.

That didn’t bother Irma as much as having to listen to the complaints.

“My new license plate says YAY 911! My car’s already been keyed three times!”

“Do you know how many lewd noted I’ve gotten stuck on my windshield since they gave me 6AY 53X?”

Irma gruffly sent most of the petitioners away to full out Form 1080-P to get a new plate at full price. The person with “A55 RGY” took a little more convincing.

“It’s the Traverse City cherry in the middle of the plate,” the petitioner said. “It looks like an O.”

“Oh,” Irma said. “Form 1080-P.”

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“Did you hear that? The way the buffet seemed to creak and settle?”

“Yeah, almost like a sigh.”

The buffet had started life as a stand of trees in what later became Tecumseh County, Michigan. After the brushfires of war with the natives and the British died down, lumber men had come up from the south with their axes and saws. The area was well-served by rivers which were deep and wide enough to float logs on, and when the lumber boom came in the 1880s, the trees found themselves in the center of a large logging camp known as Reid’s Slashing.

Cut down in the first expansion of the camp, the logs were floated downriver to Muskegon, where they went through a riverside sawmill and emerged as rough lumber. Then it was up the Grand River to Grand Rapids, the great Furniture City and boomtown of the hour. Berkley and Sons, a fast-growing furniture maker destined to become the state’s greatest carpentry concern until its collapse in the Great Depression, bought the lumber. Finished into a buffet in the then-fashionable style, it was loaded onto the Grand Rapids & Indian Railroad, ultimately destined for Chicago.

Gilded Age Chicago was booming in its own way, a center of railroads, meat-packing, and other heavy industry. The buffet quickly found a buyer in an up-and-coming district, changing hands several times before winding up on the South Side just before the second World War thanks to a pair of newlyweds and a garage sale. It held everything from knickknacks to wedding feasts over the next 40 years, before the crippling urban decay of the late 1970s and early 1980s forced the buffet’s owners to the suburbs.

30 years later, one of their grandchildren and his wife found the furniture in a storage unit where it had lay for almost a decade following the deaths of its owners. They loaded it up on a truck for their vacation home to the north–up in Michigan, in the blighted buckle of the Rust Belt, the boom days long since past. Setting it up in their second home, an old lumber baron’s mansion in the Tecumseh County seat of Deerton, they had both been startled by the strange, earthy noise it had made upon being set down.

Thing is, Deerton had grown up from the nucleus of the Reid’s Slashing lumber camp. The old house had been built in the heart of the Slashing, where the first trees had been logged long ago. For those old boards, sitting where they had once grown, they weren’t just decorating another living room.

They had come home.

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From the Cascadia Post-Gazette, June 15 2005:
…Inmotion is first computer animation firms established in the state. “We mainly do animation for local commercials and series of stills for industrial plants in the western part of the state,” says Jay Harris, an intern from Osborn University. “But the owners have plans to expand if they can, and I for one have some big dreams about what we could do.”

From the Cascadia Post-Gazette, July 27 2007:
…feel that the move to Detroit will really help Inmotion to grow,” says Jay Harris, vice-president and COO. With the purchase of a 15,000 square foot complex abandoned by the city, Inmotion is primed to expand beyond their current market according to Harris. “Commercials and industrial stuff may be our bread and butter, but I’d love to start working on more creative endeavors.”

From the Detroit Democrat-Picayune, August 18 2009:
…an entirely new filmmaking paradigm, the indie animated feature,” says Inmotion CEO Jay Harris. Enticed by the success of Inmotion’s first animated short, investors and venture capitalists have been impressed enough to contribute toward the full-length fantasy/sci-fi feature under development. By relying on independent funding to produce and distribute the film, Harris hopes to encourage more filmmaking and innovation in Michigan and Detroit. “The whole thing is being done with profit sharing in mind,” Harris continues. “Everyone from our actors–and we have some big names–to our community partners will get a slice.”

From Vanity Magazine, Fall Film Issue, October 15 2010
…and box office records of another kind were set by the independent animated film Realms of Anon, a picture independently financed by Michigan animation house Inmotion–by far the worst opening weekend of any film showing on more than 1000 screens. Despite an impressive cast and film festival plaudits, the ambitious fantasy/sci-fi film never found an audience, and with less than $500,000 in box office receipts against a $50 million budget, it’s unlikely to break even in the long run.

From the Cascadia Post-Gazette, October 8 2011
…Osborn University, hit hard by the recession, has announced plans to close its computer-aided design program. Jay Harris, an instructor for CADC 101, had bitter words for the move. “It’s just going to be one more thing driving people out of this tattered mitten of a state,” he says. “Osborn should be cultivating local talent for projects that will put Michigan back on the map, and instead they’re being short-sighted, like everyone else.” Harris, former CEO of bankrupt Detroit-area animation studio Inmotion and co-director of the only animated film to come out of the studio, is perhaps the most high-profile in a series of layoffs that will result in the elimination of nearly 100 faculty, staff, and scholarships.

Federal Electric Distribution had no ties to the government; its founder C. Earl Chapterhouse simply felt the name bespoke a certain strength and reliability. It’s no coincidence that as public trust in government bottomed out during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the company was renamed Fededis after the acronym that appeared on its service trucks.

In time, it became a virtual monopoly in the eastern half of the state, gathering up the rural districts and smaller towns that Detroit Edison evinced little interest in. By the time of Fededis’ spectacular collapse and acquisition by DTE in 1981, it had electrified nearly two thirds of the state’s land area–or at least taken over management of the grids there. Its collapse, coming on the heels of summer brownouts and a general malaise on Wall Street, didn’t attract much notice.

It should have. Fededis has come within a whisker’s breadth of complete control over the national power infrastructure, a complete nationwide blackout, or–most chillingly–both.

We called ourselves ‘Supprimerlesens,’ which was a bit of an in-joke. Pierre, the lead developer, liked to say that video games subsumed and deleted the senses, so we slapped together the French phrase ‘supprimer le sens’ with no spaces.

It was a very innovative game, and a special processor in the arcade board allowed it to do amazing things with vector graphics…scaling and motion unlike anything else at the time, and more vectors on the screen at once than even dedicated vector systems. We combined it with a series of sophisticated, high-resolution sprites that formed the title, backgrounds, and some gameplay elements. It was all very abstract and geometrical, which is why we called it ‘Pythagoras.’

Of course we were our own testers at first. Everything was going well, and we had a working mocked-up arcade cabinet with schematics for mass-production and several interested arcade companies. Then we brought in outside testers from a local university. One of them had a grand mal epileptic seizure after just a few moments of gameplay. All those flashing lights and spinning colors…

The testers who weren’t susceptible to seizures loved the game, so we modified it and removed the backgrounds. We thought that was enough, but within a month the testers began suffering from a variety of neurological side-effects. Amnesia, insomnia, nightmares, night terrors…even a suicide. That should have been the end of things, but the French DGSE signals intelligence unit learned of this and bought us out. We produced a limited run of 10-12 machines, which were each modified by the DGSE before being distributed to ‘test markets’ in the United States.

Washington State, Maine, Montana, the upper peninsula of Michigan…we were told that the DGSE was going to iron out the bugs while using the game cabinets as dead drops for field agents. We beleived them, or told ourselves that we did…we were young, and ambitious, remember. The first murder-suicides put an end to all that.