Wilde Irish Pi

Talk, Banter & Buzz

Number of times the rakish Irish playwright Oscar Wilde was labeled an “ass-thete” by the local press when he brought his lecture tour to the Twin Cities on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day in 1882. Wilde, who was speaking about art (specifically, America’s lack of it), was “shocked by our buildings, by the mud in the streets, and especially by the rooms and furniture in the hotels,” reported the St. Paul Daily Globe. No word on what he thought of lutefisk.

Percentage of Minnesotans reporting Irish ancestry in a 2004 survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, making them the third-largest ethnic group in the state, behind Germans (37.3 percent) and Norwegians (17 percent). The Census Bureau has no data on the percentage who claim to be Irish on March 17.

Number of songs about pi, that mathematically crucial number (3.14 and so on), composed by former Windom, Minnesota, math teacher LaVern Christianson in honor of Pi Day, which is celebrated on 3/14, of course. Sample lyric: “Oh number Pi / no pattern are you sending / you’re three point one four one five nine / and even more if we had time.” Number of people who knew Pi Day existed? Likely only those who will compete in the Minnesota State High School Math League tournament, to be held, inexplicably, on 3/13/06.

The age Senator Eugene McCarthy would have been if he’d lived to see his birthday on March 29 (he died in December). Level of embarrassment at Esquire after the magazine recently ran a cartoon that depicted George Clooney, director of the movie Good Night, and Good Luck, aiming a gun at Eugene McCarthy instead of Senator Joseph McCarthy: incalculable.

Total number of NCAA championships won by University of Minnesota women’s hockey programs—three by the team from the Duluth campus and two by the Twin Cities squad (which hopes to defend its 2005 title this month). Note: only five NCAA women’s hockey titles have ever been awarded. You do the math, college boy.