To the point week of 7/5/07

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FEELING LUCKY? There are lots of people who are banking on this Saturday being a very lucky day. It’s July 7th, 2007 – or, if you’re scoring at home, 07-07-07.

How lucky do you feel?

I know of one couple who are getting married on Saturday. In fact, they’re getting married at 7:07 p.m. – That’s 7:07 on 07-07-07.

If you believe in lucky numbers, you have to believe that there’s a marriage with a pretty good chance of suceeding.

So that got me thinking about numbers, considered lucky and unlucky, that people have.

Many people think that seven is lucky because there are so many combinations of seven on two dice. Seven is also a number that is seen significantly in the Bible.

The number 11 is also considered by many people to be a “lucky” number.

Want an “unlucky” number? For nearly everyone, it starts and ends with 13.

It got me wondering why the number 13 got to be considered unlucky. I decided to do some searching for an answer, and the results were pretty interesting.

In many cultures, the number 13 is considered be unlucky simply because it follows the number 12, which is a popular number in many countries because it is a highly composite number.

Take a group of 13 people and divide them into smaller groups of six, four, or three, and no matter which you use, there’s always someone left out – and left over. That person, the 13th of the group, is considered to be the unlucky person because they don’t have a group.

Biblically, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, was the 13th person to sit at the table for the Passover Meal the night he betrayed Jesus.

Biologically, if a woman cycles every 28 days, then she will have 13 cycles in a calendar year.

Sometimes it’s not that complicated.

Charles Platt, in 1925, theorized that a person can count to 12 using 10 fingers and two feet, making the number 13 unlucky because you can’t count that high with your shoes on.

If you’re into those sort of things (and if you believe in lucky and unlucky numbers, I assume you are), in a deck of Tarot cards, the 13th card is the death card.

In fact, there is a medical term known as “triskaidekaphobia”, which is the fear of the number 13.

So do you believe that there are lucky and unlucky numbers?

Many people, and cultures, do.

Many high rise buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Many airport terminals have a “12B” rather than a “13”. On the airplane, the seats go from row 12 to row 14. Many streets do not have houses that carry the number 13.

At Universal Studios in California, there is no soundstage number 13.

Athletes are typically very superstitious, and it goes to their numbers. Very few race car drivers carry the number 13. The number of professional athletes who wear the number 13 has increased lately, but it used to be a big taboo to put that number on your back.

Now I’m not a person who believes in any of this, but for those of you who do, I thought I’d also share some other things about the number 13 – especially in light of this being the week in which we celebrate our independence as a country.

There were 13 original colonies. Our flag has 13 stripes and originally had 13 stars.

In the Great Seal of the United States:

There are 13 levels of the pyramid. The slogan: “E Pluribus Unum”, which means: “From Many, One” has 13 letters in it. The phrase “Annuit Coeptis”, which means someone “approves of things that have begun”, and is on each side of the pyramid on the back of a dollar bill, also has 13 letters.

On the other side of the back of your dollar, there are 13 stars over the eagle’s head. The eagle holds 13 arrows in its left claw; and an olive branch with 13 olives in its right claw. The shield on the eagle’s chest has - you guessed it – 13 bars.

So, in terms of the founding of this great country, maybe the number 13 is a lot more lucky than we give it credit for.

And I haven’t even mentioned that a “baker’s dozen” has 13 doughnuts – who wouldn’t like that?