If you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, today is not your red-letter day. Me? Knock on wood, I'm not the superstitious type. Friday the 13th is just another day. This irrational belief that the numeral'13' is unlucky--- like so many superstitions--- has been handed down to us from the dark recesses of the distant past. In his book, "How Did It Begin?", R. Brasch says it's a superstition that predates Christianity. It can be traced back to Norse mythology. Loki, the god of strife and evil, came uninvited to a banquet in Valhalla, home of the gods. An interloper, he was the 13th at the feast. Consequently, Baldur, "the shining one' and the most beloved of the gods, met an unfortunate demise. This fable is echoed in the story of the Last Supper, where Judas embodies the foreboding 13th at the table.
Whatever the provenance of the unlucky 13, there is tangible evidence it is alive and well today. Hotels skip the 13th floor. Italian lotteries forbid its use. Many airlines omit such numbered seats on their planes. And sailors have refused to disembark on the 13th of the month. R. Brasch offers a "less superstitious and more rational explanation" for the superstition: According to the mortality tables of insurance companies, out of any group of 13, one person will die within less than 12 months.
Today in North Korea, the launch of a space satellite--- called Kwangmyongsong or Bright Shining Star---was a $1 billion spectacular flop. It was supposed to honor the 100th birthday of Kim-Il-sung, the founder of North Korea.
If you ask me, 13 had something to do with it.