Thursday 12 October 2006


I wasn't blogging back in 2001, so didn't get an opportunity to rant as publicly as I can now about the crappy numerology emails that started circulating on the 12th of September. "Oo, look! If you add the flight number of the first plane to the fuel capacity of the second one, then convert the name of the destination of the third plane into numbers using this arbitrary calculation, then square it, then take away my birthday, then round up to the nearest 911, YOU GET 911!! COINCIDENCE??!!? I think NOT!!!!!!" I did point out to one of my more superstitious colleagues (who had forwarded such an email to us all) that, if the date had any significance to the perpetrators, it was slightly more likely to be the Siege of Vienna, and that the planes might well have been picked for their large fuel capacities and hence explosive power rather than the mystical significance of their flight numbers — especially when numerology has its roots in a Hebrew tradition, not something Muslims are notorious for their reverence to. She was very upset and shouted at me about how I always have to be right about everything and since when was I such an expert that I could claim to know more about this than whoever the fuck it was who'd originally written the email that Simon in Accounts had forwarded to her? I agreed that yes, some random numerologist with an email account, a font fetish, and a gippy caps lock key probably did have more insight into the event than the combined ranks of the FBI, CIA, and FAA. (Hey, it seemed like a good bit of sarcasm at the time. It was early days. How was I to know I was right?)

Forward to today, and... oh, for crying out loud.

Since when is five years and one month a special, significant, momentous anniversary? Anyone celebrate their five-years-and-a-month wedding anniversary? Anyone mourn the five-years-and-a-month anniversary of the death of a loved one? Anyone remember their five-years-and-a-month birthday party? Anyone?

The incident occurred exactly five years and one month after terrorists flew two planes into New York's World Trade Center, bringing down its landmark twin towers.

In other words, the incident occurred on the eleventh. Of a month. So fucking what? Is every minor disaster that occurs on the eleventh of some month or other going to be given this stupid coverage from now on?

Yes, of course people were reminded of 9/11 because a plane hit a building in New York. That's a genuine parallel worth reporting on, obviously. Had it occurred on the eleventh of September, again, it'd be stupid not to mention it, even if it were mere coincidence. But the eleventh of any other month is not worth mentioning. We have eleven of them every year, and stuff happens on those days. Get over it.

And what's so special about a month, anyway? Are months really more significant than weeks? What if this had happened on, say, the 18th of September? Would it have been reported as "exactly five years and one week after terrorists flew two planes into New York's World Trade Center, bringing down its landmark twin towers"? Probably, sadly, yes.

So, to recap, any disaster that could possibly look a bit like a terrorist attack and occurs on the eleventh or twenty-fifth of any month, the first or eighth of January, February, April, June, August, September, or November, the second or ninth of May, July, October, or December, or the fourth or (in a leap year) the third of March, is likely to be reported as some sort of significant anniversary of 9/11, and therefore scarier than if it had happened on the dull old nineteenth of June.

All because of an attack by people who use a different calendar.

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