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Friday, 13 November 2020


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Hi Mike, it seems you keep spelling the former German dictator's name as "Adolph Hitler". In fact it was "Adolf Hitler".

I enjoyed that.

13 is definitely unlucky. Just as eating Carrots is unlucky.
Do you realize that everyone worldwide who ate Carrots in 1813 is now dead? Yep, every one of them.

Lots of crazy beliefs around...

I lived all over Asia for many years and found that their cultural "unlucky" number was 4. They used a clever workaround to avoid the danger by simply skipping it in many sequential situations.

Check into a hotel and go to the 5th floor which comes directly after the 3rd floor in the elevator.

To quote Michael Scott from "The Office", "I'm not superstitious, but I'm a little stitious."

As a long time lover of cats I can assure your readers that black cats are as loving as any other. Don't give black cats a reputation they certainly don't deserve!

MIKE! Eight lines and 84 words!! That second sentence in the first paragraph must set an all-time new TOP record!! You must have been completely out of breath by the time you finished typing it. I couldn't even hold my breath long enough to finish reading it... Well done.

On a basketball team in the USAF back in the early sixties, I deliberately picked 13 for my jersey number.

I loved the comment on conspiracy that John Bolton made this morning in an NPR interview, about a "conspiracy ... so vast and so successful, that apparently there’s no evidence of it,”

So how do you account for the fact that I lost my job - the same job, in fact - on Friday the 13th, twice?

[Now that really is bad luck. --Mike]

"Pool players know that "the shot after" is statistically more likely to be missed—after you attempt and make a particularly difficult shot, you're more likely to let up on the next one and miss it."

Citation please.

If you have none, read about the Basketball Hot Hand Fallacy, here or search for it yourself.

I suspect you will find that your "day after" phenomenon is a similar fallacy.

[Hi Moose,
The DAY-after idea was mere speculation, analogizing from the shot-after idea. Citation for the shot-after:


If you're looking for something more rigorous, I'm afraid it won't exist. Because not only is there no way to accurately qualify a "hard shot," but different shots create different levels of stress for different players. Some players have good control of their minds, some less so. Obviously all have different skill levels. Who's to say, for instance, whether a tournament setting, or a betting situation, or making a public video creates more stress for a player, for example? So a "seat of the pants" conclusion from experience (and Ralph has a whole lot of experience) is about the best it would get on this.

...Of course that's speculation on my part as well.... :-) Mike]

Not a Dan Brown fan?

As a leader in Pack 13, Troop 13G(Girls), and Troop 13b(boys), I gotta say we enjoy giving other units Triskaidekaphobia when they encounter us at scored events:) We've been around since 1921, I guess the bad luck is after the first century?:)

Mike, there were at least 14 attendees at the last supper. You are forgetting that apostle who had to leave early.
As for the date it wasn’t on Friday but probably Tuesday or Wednesday the first or second of April in the year 33. Or not, depending on whether you believe astronomy.

@ Albert Smith
About that number four thing:
I was in a booth at NAB in Las Vegas demoing a hardware add-on for the video toaster and software I had written to play switcher macros. The demo was that you press button four on the panel, the live video of the person you are doing the demo for starts spinning around, shrinks into a ball then unfolds as a video from another camera.
Needless to say this did not go over well with the Japanese, and I spent all night re-writing the demo.

I did not even remark it until you mentioned it. Of course, this has been a pretty unlucky year anyway, what more can a Friday the Thirteenth do to us?

Knickerbocker is 13 letters.

So "watch out for that tree!" From George of the Jungle. I loved that show. I also see no reason to include it in this comment.

The logic of avoiding a 13th (or 4th) floor by renaming them makes me a little crazy. Should we rename Friday the 13th Friday the 12.5 or Friday the 13.6?

Time to go say `Bloody Mary' at the mirror now...

Mike, if a black cat crosses your path, it means the animal is going someplace.

With best regards, Stephen

"...I submit to you the shocking fact (cue spooky music): they're all dead!..."

That's what they want you to believe...


I never knew that Tweety Bird had said "It's twue, it's twue". I first heard it from the famous movie heroine Lili von Shtup.

My uncle had a thing for avoiding the number 11. He was crossing the street in Berkeley California on November 11, got hit by a car and broke his leg. The next year he was crossing the street in Berkeley California on November 11, got hit by a car and broke his other leg. From then on he made a point of avoiding the city of Berkeley on November 11. He admitted that the sample size wasn’t very big but he saw no reason to try and demonstrate that it was a random coincidence.

Laughing here. Just back from the ER after an incredibly tough day. I'm glad you're here.

Triskaidekaphobia, would you believe. As one does, I stumbled across a fascinating entry in the Wikipedia about the composer Arnold Schoenberg's terror of 13. He was 76 (7 + 6 = 13) when he died on a Friday 13. Self-fulfilling prophecies, eh?

Hitch called conspiracy theories "the exhaust fumes of democracy." 8^)

Jesus et al go to the restaurant for the last supper.

JC ask's the maitre'd for a table for 26.

The M'd replies "but there's only 13 of you"

JC: Yes, but we're all going to sit on the same side.


No mention or musing on a "baker's dozen?"

A bonus 13th item always seemed lucky to me!

Interesting. Superstitions are something that people find easy to believe, like conspiracy theories and religion. There seems to be a human gene that in some part of the population enhances belief in the unlikely while leading them to simultaneously dismiss scientific proof.
I am not sure it's "weak-minded people" though. I've known some very intelligent people who act very superstitious. When questioned about this behavior, the reaction is usually "can't hurt!"
My theory on human behavior is based on the assumption that most human traits can be described by a Gaussian distribution, the "bell-shaped curve." We all know it from measures of intelligence, but that same curve seems to describe many other human traits: empathy, greed, hate, power/authority, religious belief, etc. In fact, I think the whole bit is three-dimensional or multidimensional, e.g. empathy/hate or greed/power.
But that's probably what you get from taking philosophy and psychology courses while getting a degree in physical science.

There is also a theory that the superstition surrounding Friday 13th comes from the dissolution of the order of the Knights Templar. From Wikipedia “At dawn on Friday, 13 October 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition)[37][38] King Philip IV ordered de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested.”.

My new unlucky number is 2020.

I’ve also had a really tough day but I’m sitting here laughing at Patrick’s comment. Thanks everyone. TOP is a great way to end the day.

Thanks for the reminder. I must go back and capture the scene with a fish-eye lens. Assuming the place is still there, this scene:

I think that thing with the bed position is common Western interior design practice though I think it’s expressed as “not being able to see the face of the bed occupant from the doorway”. I suspect it’s just describing the usual situation since beds are not usually placed under windows and the doors are commonly in a non-windowed interior wall. So we are back to practicality rather than superstition, like not walking under ladders.

I suspect that superstitions may arise from a feature of human nature that make us prone to gambling.
The hypothesis I favour is that for early humans there was a big advantage to be had from recognising patterns, whether in the behaviour of prey or dangerous animals, or the growth of plant food resources. So our brains evolved to be very good at it. But there was little evolutionary pressure on us to avoid seeing patterns where there was just randomness. So we're remarkably vulnerable to seeing patterns when there is no pattern.

I'm reminded of Nils Borh and the horseshoe!

My mother, a bad packrat just shy of a hoarder, used to collect books on feng shui. The irony was burning.

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