Today's Friday Five is, appropriately for Friday the 13th, about supersitions [*cue Stevie Wonder*]:

1. Are you superstitious? I'm not one for weird rituals and bad omens, but (or maybe because) I have a strong belief in karma. I think most traditional superstitions are self-fulfilling: if it weren't for black cats and cracks in the sidewalk, where would we displace our anxiety over the essential randomness of the universe and our own certain pain and death? Like I said, karma.

2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition? I like the athletes who wear the same stinky socks or sweat-stained hat (Tim Wakefield, anyone?) all season to bring luck.

3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition? Throwing a pinch of spilled salt over your left shoulder, to blind the devil to your misfortune! The Catholic in me likes the spooky, thrifty, smugly self-righteous, and delusional aspects of this one.

4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual? I like the positive vibrations some things give off, like the number 8, new pennies, certain items of clothing. That's probably based on past good experiences associated with those items, though, and I don't really believe you can invoke more good feelings by trying to replicate the old ones, and that's what lucky charms are supposed to do. "Luck" to me is just random good fortune, through no act of your own. If you're trying to get lucky, maybe you're doing things in a more proactive or creative way than usual, and that's bringing you better opportunities. Am I sounding like a hard-headed rationalist yet?

5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not? Speaking of rationalism...or not, I have to say I am persuaded by the astrological personality profiles (though not usually the future-predicting part of it) in the same way I am persuaded by the argument that birth order shapes your personality. In my experience, I am not only a classic oldest kid, I am a classic Virgo in many, many ways. Let me quote another Virgo, who noted after hearing a list of Virgo qualities, "You forgot critical."

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