Pi.

pi

We were having dinner on the patch of green next to our apartment building last night when Rosie pointed out the numbers in the sky. I took to Twitter to find out what was going on, but only found others wallowing in the same confusion.

This morning, though, The New York Post explains: It was Pi!

Organizers say the “Pi in the Sky” installation — which wrote the first 314 digits of the mathematical constant “Pi” in skyscraper-sized characters over New York City — was visible for more than fifteen miles in all directions.

Duel.

duel

Aaron Burr was born in Newark, New Jersey, and served admirably in the Continental Army, later rising to the highest levels of government in our burgeoning American republic. He would come to be remembered as the dude who shot the other dude on the ten dollar bill.

That also happened in New Jersey! Not far from Newark, in Weehawken, where a monument now stands memorializing Alexander Hamilton, a New Yorker born in the West Indies, where we shall assume his parents were busy subjugating somebody, let’s be real here.

There are two plaques, one on either side of the Hamilton bust, which sits at the edge of a modest park atop the New Jersey Palisades, high above the Hudson River. The first one addresses the subject of the infamous duel:

hamilton-burr-duel

It turns out that Weehawken was a popular place to perform the preeminent Colonial bro move: Challenge somebody to a duel. The other plaque explains:

Somewhere below this site, on a wooded ledge, twenty feet above the Hudson River, lay the dueling grounds. Among the many known and unknown duelists who fought here were Governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Vice-President Aaron Burr (1756-1836), and U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Perry (1785-1819). All came to Weehawken to defend their honor, according to the custom of the day.

If we can all agree on the point that a duel is a very dumb way to settle a dispute, I would like to take a moment on this day, the 210th anniversary of the Hamilton-Burr duel, to levy a very provincial defense of my fellow Jersey guy Aaron Burr.

Aaron Burr has gotten a very shit reputation, and for what? For winning the duel! Gun violence remains a very serious problem in this country, and is no laughing matter, but when two highly educated fathers of the American experiment cannot manage to get over themselves, and agree to settle their dispute on the dueling grounds, it is fair to say that whoever loses pretty much had it coming.

Many historians have argued that Burr’s legacy has been sullied because he killed Hamilton. The New York Times notes that he “ranks just above Benedict Arnold in the public rogues’ gallery of traitors to the Republic.” The fact that the memorial to his duel — in Burr’s home state — features a bust of his rival only furthers the insult.

(OK, it should be noted that, after suffering a number of insults from Hamilton, Burr is the one who issued the duel challenge, what can only be described as “the ultimate aggro-bro move.”)

So let me, on the 11th of July, 2014, make the following declaration: Aaron Burr — he was not such a bad guy!

(Update: Derrick rightly points out there was also that whole alleged treason thing. Regardless!)