Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Superstitious Math Geeks?

Reading Eric Zorn's notebook on the Tribune site is becoming a daily indulgence for me. Today, due to a Zorn link, I found out that I'm not the only person fixated on a prime number.
Okay, to be fair, I have a friend named Keith who is fixated on the number 37 (which is prime), and he sees it everywhere. I'm not considering Keith to be a superstitious math geek, though, because he's an artist, and in this sort of math-oriented obsession takes the interest to another level.
My personal fixation is with the number 13, which I find connected to me. For a quick example, consider the letter M. It's the 13th letter of the alphabet (I learned this thanks to Jim Carrey's Riddler in _Batman Forever_). Also, the letter D is used for the number 13 in hexadecimal notation (base 16). I could go on, but I don't won't to get weird here. I'm not even going into the connection 13 has with the United States or the mathematical properties of 13. Well, I will mention that 13 is prime, of course, and it's also a Fibonacci number. But that's all I'm going to write. At this time, anyway.

On the subject of the properties of numbers, consider that the number 28 is perfect, by mathematical definition, essentially, a perfect number is one that is the sum of its proper diviors (e.g., 6 = 1 + 2 + 3). I mention this because of that number's relation to the lunar cycle and, as a segue, women's average menstrual cycle. Rough segue, but Zorn's giving away a book, _Woe to the Women - The Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality, and the Law_, which "documents the bible's punitive, antediluvian rules and attitudes toward women." What's interesting to me is how this relates to another site that I've seen arguing that Jesus was a feminist. To me this is an extension of an underlying conflict over the legacy of Jesus, which seems to be primarily a struggle between James and Paul. I'll return to this subject another time.

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