Numerology Defeated in 5-1 Vote by the SF Taxicab Commission

Jesse McKinley reports in the Times:

It was a good day for the Devil in San Francisco on Tuesday, as the Taxicab Commission voted to keep the Dark Lord’s favorite number — 666 — affixed to an allegedly cursed cab.

The vote, which came after an amused period of public comment and annoyed looks from the commissioners, extended the satanic reign of Taxi No. 666, which is driven by one Michael Byrne (pronounced burn).

Mr. Byrne, who did not appear at the hearing on Tuesday night and was not reachable for comment, had lobbied — out of superstition — to have his medallion number changed, and had found an ally in Jordanna Thigpen, deputy director of the Taxicab Commission.

In a memorandum distributed last week, Ms. Thigpen wrote that Mr. Byrne believed the number to be responsible for a series of calamities he had endured in a streak of bad luck that had led him to have his taxi blessed at a local church, to no apparent avail.



  1. LanceR

    BWAHAHAHAHA! The taxi of the Beast! I love America… where else can loons like this actually be (semi) productive citizens!

    I was at a local retailer last night, purchasing a few small items, and the total came to $6.66 – and the cashier actually recoiled from the screen… Gotta love it!


  2. The have to hire someone named John Milton to drive that thing around. Can they paint it deep red?

  3. Michele

    He had his cab blessed but that didn’t help either. The proposal was to retire 666 and replace it with 1307. Noone seemed upset that the new number starts with 13 …

    And this last paragraph from the Chron:

    When it was all over, the keenest minds at City Hall observed that the commission had discussed the matter for exactly 24 minutes (2 plus 4 equals 6) on the 24th of the month (2 plus 4 equals 6) in a meeting that began at half past 6 o’clock.

  4. Jim Ramsey

    Did Stephen King testify?

  5. Anonymous

    No doubt the cabbies excuse for not taking you anywhere would be ‘I don’t go south of the River Styx at this time of night’…

  6. Aw, they should’ve changed it to 616 (the correctly translated Number of The Beast) just for laughs…

  7. Aw, they should’ve changed it to 616 (the correctly translated Number of The Beast) just for laughs…

    Actually, neither is more correct than the other. Both of them stem from the numerical representation of the Emperor Nero(n)’s name, which had two representations in Hebrew (and Hebrew letters have numerical values). He’s more commonly known as Nero today, which would be 616, but we can’t really determine which was more used in his time.

  8. Erisian23

    *sniff sniff* I think I smell a 1964 CRA Title VII lawsuit. Well, at least he asked nicely first.

    The article did contain a funny I didn’t catch at first glance: “[Byrne] had lobbied – out of superstition – to have his medallion number changed”. Apparently the NYT has a special device that allows them to distinguish between “real” religious beliefs and “mere” superstitions (or they were quoting Byrne and Byrne’s got one). I wish I had one too. For example, he had the cab blessed in response to superstition. The NYT doesn’t inform us if the blessing ritual was performed out of devout religious belief or also just superstition, only that the blessing was ineffective[1]. Since they labeled the one and not the other, I’m assuming it was religious. And if that’s the case, the scorecard stands at:

    Superstition 1, Religious Belief 0

    No doubt superstition will rue the day it crossed devout religious belief.

    Personally, I’m cheering for superstition. I’ll take Chupacabras over jihads any day. Stories of alien visitors with a penchant for probing drunken country folks’ holiest of holies just make life that much more entertaining. 🙂


    [1] “ineffective” in this case meaning the desired outcome of the instigating agent was not achieved to his own satisfaction. Alternatively, it could be supposed that all such blessings are granted/denied in accordance with His will and therefore the alleged ineffectiveness of the blessing ritual is in fact “working as intended.” This might also imply Byrne (or the cab) has attracted some measure of divine disfavor.

  9. I’ve heard one theory that says luck may actually be a mental quality. People who think they are unlucky tend to have a confirmation bias against all the little bad things that happen and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who think they are lucky tend to have a confirmation bias in the other direction, etc.

    On a side note, personally, I’ve always considered Friday the 13th a lucky day, although one of my old Ripley’s books said that, in an attempt to disprove the myth a long time ago, they launched a ship on Friday the 13th, named something like Friday, captained by someone named Friday, etc. The boat was never heard from again.

  10. tourettist

    For consolation they could have at least offered him a refresher course in Driver’s Ed.

  11. Give him a new number as long as he promises to pay a punitive fine if the bad luck continues. He’s had bad juju (number) and good juju (blessed by church), so something tells me it’s not the juju causing the trouble. Ask him to put money on the line, and we’ll find out if he realizes it too.

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