September 4th, 2011


It's bad luck to try to avoid bad luck

Generally, knowledge is extremely valuable. The exception is when people approach you and tell you how valuable their knowledge is. If someone's knowledge is less valuable than your attention, you can probably skip it. Usually, they don't have much more to say except "What I have to say is very valuable and important!" and that isn't particularly valuable or important.

Wait, I got lost there. Let me start over.

Someone approached me and asked if I wanted to know a secret. "Technically, anything you could tell me right now wouldn't count as a secret," I retorted, and he shrugged and kept talking.

"Most cities, when planning countable street names, skip the number between 12 and 14 and replace the street in between with some other name. They think they're avoiding bad luck, but it's actually quite the opposite. By giving 13 another name, you're cursing both of them. San Francisco has made the name Funston become bad luck. Minneapolis/St. Paul cursed Plymouth. Los Angeles cursed Pico. Detroit just skipped the whole street and left nothing between 12th and 14th, which was smart, and New York didn't care and kept 13th street, which was probably even smarter. Or at least it would have been, if Seattle hadn't named 13th street Northeast as Brooklyn and shipped their curse off to the East Coast. Which was just mean, since Seattle already had like half a dozen 13th streets and avenues anyway."

"Salt Lake City probably ducked the whole thing. They multiplied their street numbers by a hundred," I retorted thoughtfully.

"Baltimore justs numbers streets at random and erratically, so they're probably safe. Philadelphia, inexplicably, kept 13th Street, but renamed 14th as Broad Street. Maybe they missed or something. And I don't think New Orleans even has any numbered streets past Fourth."

"They do, but only the even ones."

"Well, whatever. The important thing is, you don't want to mess with Oakland, California."

"Why?" I asked.

"They named 13th street International and cursed everybody."

How about your town?