Birdman's Weekly Letter #513:
The Clock Superstition System

Date: December 30, 2008
To: The usual suspects
From: John Bryant (
Re: Birdman's Weekly Letter #513: The Clock Superstition System
Contents: Opinion (as always)
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The Clock Superstition System


"With rare exceptions, evolution's children are not superfluous. Things evolve because they are useful or needed, and useless things are left behind or abandoned for the same reason. It is perfectly true that we may not understand this utility or needfulness, but we must at least maintain an awareness of its presence." --JBR Yant

Let me make a confession -- I am superstitious. Or at least sort of, or in an offhand way, except that whether one says I am superstitious or not depends on how "superstitious" is defined. But whether or not I am 'superstitious', I am definitely out of bounds scientifically, not because I am violating any scientific principle -- I am not -- but because I dare to embrace in some sense what those of a conventional scientific mindset would see as 'unscientific'.

The clock superstition system, or CS for short, is simple in principle: If you have recently made a decision, and if shortly after this occurs you happen to catch a glance of a digital clock or other digital timepiece, you can then tell whether this timepiece 'endorses' your decision according to the pattern of numbers it is displaying when you first see it. It doesn't really matter what patterns these are; it only matters that they are relatively uncommon and that they are firmly fixed in your mind. I will explain this in more detail in a moment.

But of course the point of the CS system is not to discover whether a clock 'endorses your decision'; it is rather to OPEN A CHANNEL TO THE SPIRIT WORLD SO THAT SPIRITS -- if they exist -- MAY COMMUNICATE TO YOU ABOUT YOUR DECISION. In this sense, then, the CS system is a telecommunication system intended for use with the spirit world. It is assumed here -- perhaps wrongly -- that interested spirits have the power to turn one's attention toward or away from the clock in order that one will 'get the message' at the proper time.

As far as I know I am the inventor of the CS system. This invention is of course nothing that will bring me honor or financial success, tho it may succeed in getting me labeled as an idiot; but it is actually not much different from numerous other superstitions whose function is that of helping one to reach a decision in the face of uncertainty or absence of information, and is basically the same as flipping a coin in order to let the coin 'decide' which course of action to take according to how it lands. Likewise, it is similar to the actions of diviners, including crystal ball and tarot card readers, and the inspectors of chicken intestines (haruspex) in ancient Rome. It does, however, have some noticeable differences with the aforementioned diviners, since the former are usually attempting to obtain information about the future, while those practicing the CS system merely want an up-or-down on a decision already made. And while it may sound silly to offer the spirit world a channel of communication, it is not so silly as it may first seem. "Restless spirits" are not unknown in the spirit world, and not only may a channel of communication help them to find their own equilibrium, but it may also offer useful information to 'we the living'.

Let me now explain the system I use, and exactly what the motivations are behind it. The numbers I look for on the clock which will 'endorse' my behavior are what might be called 'pretty numbers'. These include any which begin and end in the same numeral or cluster, eg, 939 or 1212, plus any number on the hour or half-hour (300, 230). I include 1234, and have thought of including other 'pretty' series such as numbers divisible by 5, or the Fibonacci series, but do not do so. All numbers besides these I do not consider 'pretty', hence I take them as neutral for purposes of rendering judgment; and a few numbers I consider distinctly bad (911, 918 - the latter being an abbreviation of 1918, the date of the Russian Revolution). The reader will notice that there are distinctly fewer 'pretty' numbers than others; hence we are not padding our results with false optimism.

The way I make use of the CS system is what the reader might describe as 'not very much'. That is, I do often notice if a decision of mine has an endorsement -- there is a certain psychological comfort in that, and our house happens to have a lot of digital clocks. But after I make a decision I do not ordinarily change my mind about it, should the clock's decision prove adverse. Thus even if superstition has a grip on my psyche in some way, it is neither pervasive nor particularly harmful, no matter how black it may be painted by outside parties.

In passing, it should be mentioned that during a time of crisis that I recently experienced, a host of somewhat strange messages have been coming thru the CS system. Specifically, upon making a decision which I consider good, a glance at a nearby clock will show the current time to be between 5 and 9 minutes after the hour. I might dismiss this as insignificant except that it has happened so frequently that I simply cannot do so, with the result that I have to regard the possibility of spirits watching me as a significant possibility.

Now in conclusion, even if there is no spirit world, or no desire of spirits to communicate with living beings, there is nothing of significance lost by the use of the CS system, because the only thing lost in guiding one's life by such a system, is that certain random decisions might turn out differently, much like tossing a coin to decide something when we know nothing else to do might turn out differently.

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