# Mercury Retrograde: A Bad Slice Of Π

Mercury is now retrograde, bringing with it cluttered thinking and a tendency to grasp at the wrong solution to difficult issues (if you aren’t familiar with the concept, click HERE and HERE for all the details). This is a time when Mercury-ruled things like packages in the mail and short trips and software updates and agreements can all go unexpectedly wonky. Good ideas can turn out badly, and sometimes bad ideas can gain ground. Like, for instance, that time the Indiana State Legislature tried to re-write how The Universe works.

Politicians love simple, straightforward facts. Unfortunately, life is too often filled with messy details that don’t fit into a soundbite or a poster. Politicians sometimes respond to this by rounding the uneven corners off of The Truth. And, in one rather famous case, they decided to tell the Universe how to do its job.

You’ll probably recall the concept of “pi” (π) from High School: it’s the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In other words, if a circle is 1 meter across, it is π meters around. π itself is what’s called an “irrational number” like √2, for example. Most kids sitting in a classroom get a little nervous at the concept of a “number” that is, in fact, a long string of numbers (3.1415926535897932… and on and on for billions of decimal places with no end).

So, on January 18th, 1897, with Mercury retrograde in “don’t tell me what to do” Aquarius, and with Saturn (the traditional ruler of Aquarius… “laying down the law”) conjunct Uranus (the modern ruler of Aquarius… “the weirder the better!”)… the Indiana State Legislature began debate on a bill which defined π as exactly 3.2. That’s all: just plain old 3.2. Finally, a government makes things simpler and easier to use! Too bad that the bill contradicted the Known Universe actually works. Other than that small problem.. great idea guys!

The original mind behind the bill was a Dr. Edwin J. Goodman, an amateur mathematical enthusiast and physician who had claimed to have discovered the true value of pi… right down to patenting the idea, so that anyone attempting to use the “more accurate” version of the mathematical constant would owe the good Doctor a user’s fee. His math may have been questionable but his business instincts were impeccable.

The bill passed the House unanimously, and moved on to the State Senate. Fortunately for Indiana engineers (and the people who rely on their vehicles and elevators and public schools) the Bill died in the Senate… once an actual Professor of Mathematics explained to the Senators how utterly ridiculous the concept was. So — once Mercury was no longer retrograde — the bill died.

So you see: don’t feel too badly about any bad decisions you’ve made lately, any drunk dialing to exes you may regret, or any recent bad decisions. You may have misinterpreted what The Universe wanted you to do… but at least you didn’t tell The Universe how to do its job.

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