Part 1: Classic, Military, Technology, Love, Sex , Misc. A B C D
Part 2: Misc. E F G H I J K L M Part 3: Misc. N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z
N
Nader's Law:
The speed of exit of a civil servant is directly proportional to the quality of his service.
NASA Skylab Rule:
Don't do it if you can't keep it up.
NASA Truisms:
Research is reading two books that have never been read in order to write a third that will never be read.
A consultant is an ordinary person a long way from home.
Statistics are a highly logical and precise method for saying a half-truth inaccurately.
Law of Nations:
In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air.
Navy Law:
If you can keep your head when all about you others are losing theirs, maybe you just don't understand the situation.
Evvie Nef's Law:
There is a solution to every problem; the only difficulty is finding it.
Nessen's Law:
Secret sources are more credible.
Newman's Law:
Hypocrisy is the Vaseline of social intercourse.
Newton's Little-known Seventh Law:
A bird in the hand is safer than one overhead.
Nick the Greek's Law:
All things considered, life is 9-to-5 against.
Nienberg's Law:
Progress is made on alternate Fridays.
Nies's Law:
The effort expended by the bureaucracy in defending any error is in direct proportion to the size of the error.
Ninety-ninety Rule of Project Schedules:
The first ninety percent of the task takes ninety percent of the time, and the last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.
Nixon's Rule:
If two wrongs don't make a right, try three.
Nobel Effect:
There is no proposition, no matter how foolish, for which a dozen Nobel signatures cannot be collected. Furthermore, any such petition is guaranteed page-one treatment in the New York Times.
Noble's Law of Political Imagery:
All other things being equal, a bald man cannot be elected President of the United States.
Corollary:
Given a choice between two bald political candidates, the American people will vote for the less bald of the two.
North Carolina Equine Paradox:
Vyarzerzomanimororsezassezanzerareorses?
No. 3 Pencil Principle:
Make it sufficiently difficult for people to do something, and most people will stop doing it.
Corollary: If no one uses something, it isn't needed.
Nursing Mother Principle:
Do not nurse a kid who wears braces.
Nyquist's Theory of Equilibrium:
Equality is not when a female Einstein gets promoted to assistant professor; equality is when a female schlemiel moves ahead as fast as a male schlemiel.
O
Oaks's Unruly Laws for Lawmakers:
Law expands in proportion to the resources available for its enforcement.
Bad law is more likely to be supplemented than repealed.
Social legislation cannot repeal physical laws.
O'Brien's First Law of Politics:
The more campaigning, the better.
O'Brien's Principle (The $357.73 Theorem):
Auditors always reject any expense account with a bottom line divisible by five or ten.
O'Brien's Rule:
Nothing is ever done for the right reason.
The Obvious Law:
Actually, it only SEEMS as though you mustn't be deceived by appearances.
Occam's Electric Razor:
The most difficult light bulb to replace burns out first and most frequently.
Occam's Razor:
Entities ought not to be multiplied except from necessity.
Reformulations:
The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be correct.
Whenever two hypotheses cover the facts, use the simpler of the two.
Cut the crap.
Oesner's Law (Oeser's Law?):
There is a tendency for the person in the most powerful position in an organization to spend all his time serving on committees and signing letters.
Old and Kahn's Law:
The efficiency of a committee meeting is inversely proportional to the number of participants and the time spent on deliberations.
Old Children's Law:
If it tastes good, you can't have it. If it tastes awful, you'd better clean your plate.
Olum's Observation (and see Martha's Maxim and Farrow's Finding):
If God had intended us to go around naked, He would have made us that way.
Oppenheimer's Observation:
The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist knows it.
Optimum Optimorum Principle:
There comes a time when one must stop suggesting and evaluating new solutions, and get on with the job of analyzing and finally implementing one pretty good solution.
Ordering Principle:
Those supplies necessary for yesterday's experiment must be ordered no later than tomorrow noon.
Orion's Law:
Everything breaks down.
Orwell's Law of Bridge:
All bridge hands are equally likely, but some are more equally likely than others.
Osborn's Law:
Variables won't; constants aren't.
Otten's Law of Testimony:
When a person says that, in the interest of saving time, he will summarize his prepared statement, he will talk only three times as long as if he had read the statement in the first place.
Otten's Law of Typesetting:
Typesetters always correct intentional errors, but fail to correct unintentional ones.
Ozian Option:
I can't give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.
P
Panic Instruction:
When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.
Paperboy's rule of Weather
No matter how clear the skies are, a thunderstorm will move in 5 minutes after the papers are delivered.
Paradox of Selective Equality:
All things being equal, all things are never equal.
Pardo's Postulates:
Anything good is either illegal, immoral, or fattening.
The three faithful things in life are money, a dog, and an old woman.
Don't care if you're rich or not, as long as you live comfortably and can have everything you want.
Pareto's Law (The 20/80 Law):
20% of the customers account for 80% of the turnover, 20% of the components account for 80% of the cost, and so forth.
Parker's Rule of Parliamentary Procedure:
A motion to adjourn is always in order.
Parker's Law of Political Statements:
The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility, and vice versa.
Parker's Third Rule of Tech Support:
If you can't navigate a one-level, five-item phone tree, you didn't need a computer anyway.
Parkin's Law of Irritation:
Anything that happens enough times to irritate you will happen at least once more.
Parkinson's Axioms:
An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.
Officials make work for each other.
Parkinson's First Law:
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion; the thing to be done swells in perceived importance and complexity in a direct ratio with the time to be spent in its completion.
Parkinson's Second Law:
Expenditures rise to meet income.
Parkinson's Third Law:
Expansion means complexity; and complexity decay.
Parkinson's Fourth Law:
The number of people in any working group tends to increase regardless of the amount of work to be done.
Parkinson's Fifth Law:
If there is a way to delay an important decision the good bureaucracy, public or private, will find it.
Parkinson's Sixth Law:
The progress of science varies inversely with the number of journals published.
Parkinson's Law of Delay:
Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
Parkinson's Law of Medical Research:
Successful research attracts the bigger grant which makes further research impossible.
Parkinson's Law of the Telephone:
The effectiveness of a telephone conversation is in inverse proportion to the time spent on it.
Parkinson's Law of 1000:
An enterprise employing more than 1000 people becomes a self-perpetuating empire, creating so much internal work that it no longer needs any contact with the outside world.
Parkinson's Principle of Non-Origination:
It is the essence of grantsmanship to persuade the Foundation executives that it was THEY who suggested the research project and that you were a belated convert, agreeing reluctantly to all they had proposed.
Mrs. Parkinson's Law:
Heat produced by pressure expands to fill the mind available, from which it can pass only to a cooler mind.
Parson's Laws:
If you break a cup or plate, it will not be the one that was already chipped or cracked.
A place you want to get to is always just off the edge of the map you happen to have handy.
A meeting lasts at least 1 1/2 hours however short the agenda.
Dolly Parton's Principle:
The bigger they are, the harder it is to see your shoes.
Pastore's Truths:
Even paranoids have enemies.
This job is marginally better than daytime TV.
On alcohol: four is one more than more than enough.
Patricks's Theorem:
If the experiment works, you must be using the wrong equipment.
Patton's Law:
A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
Paturi Principle:
Success is the result of behavior that completely contradicts the usual expectations about the behavior of a successful person.
Corollary: The amount of success is in inverse proportion to the effort involved in attaining it.
Paul Principle:
People become progressively less competent for jobs they once were well equipped to handle.
Paul's Law:
You can't fall off the floor.
Paulg's Law:
In America, it's not how much an item costs, it's how much you save.
Peck's Programming Postulates (Philosophic Engineering applied to programming):
In any program, any error which can creep in will eventually do so.
Not until the program has been in production for at least six months will the most harmful error be discovered.
Any constants, limits, or timing formulas that appear in the computer manufacturer's literature should be treated as variables.
The most vital parameter in any subroutine stands the greatest chance of being left out of the calling sequence.
If only one compiler can be secured for a piece of hardware, the compilation times will be exorbitant.
If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent systems will malfunction.
Job control cards that positively cannot be arranged in improper order, will be.
Interchangeable tapes won't.
If more than one person has programmed a malfunctioning routine, no one is at fault.
If the input editor has been designed to reject all bad input, an ingenious idiot will discover a method to get bad data past it.
Duplicated object decks which test in identical fashion will not give identical results at remote sites.
Manufacturer's hardware and software support ceases with payment for the computer.
Peckham's Law (Beckhap's Law?):
Beauty times brains equals a constant.
Peers's Law:
The solution to a problem changes the problem.
Captain Penny's Law:
You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool MOM.
Perelman's Point:
There is nothing like a good painstaking survey full of decimal points and guarded generalizations to put a glaze like a Sung vase on your eyeball.
Perkin's postulate:
The bigger they are, the harder they hit.
Perlsweig's Law:
People who can least afford to pay rent, pay rent. People who can most afford to pay rent, build up equity.
Persig's Postulate:
The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.
Law of the Perversity of Nature:
You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
Peter Principle:
In every hierarchy, whether it be government or business, each employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence; every post tends to be filled by an employee incompetent to execute its duties.
Corollaries:
Incompetence knows no barriers of time or place.
Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.
If at first you don't succeed, try something else.
Peter's Hidden Postulate According to Godin:
Every employee begins at his level of competence.
Peter's Inversion:
Internal consistency is valued more highly than efficiency.
Peter's Law of Evolution:
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.
Peter's Law of Substitution:
Look after the molehills and the mountains will look after themselves.
Peter's Observation:
Super-competence is more objectionable than incompetence.
Peter's Paradox:
Employees in a hierarchy do not really object to incompetence in their colleagues.
Peter's Perfect People Palliative:
Each of us is a mixture of good qualities and some (perhaps) not-so-good qualities. In considering our fellow people we should remember their good qualities and realize that their faults only prove that they are, after all, human. We should refrain from making harsh judgments of people just because they happen to be dirty, rotten, no-good sons-of-bitches.
Peter's Placebo:
An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.
Peter's Prognosis:
Spend sufficient time in confirming the need and the need will disappear.
Peter's Rule for Creative Incompetence:
Create the impression that you have already reached your level of incompetence.
Peter's Theorem:
Incompetence plus incompetence equals incompetence.
Peterson's Law:
History shows that money will multiply in volume and divide in value over the long run. Or, expressed differently, the purchasing power of currency will vary inversely with the magnitude of the public debt.
Phases of a Project:
Exultation.
Disenchantment.
Confusion.
Search for the Guilty.
Punishment of the Innocent.
Distinction for the Uninvolved.
Phelps's Laws of Renovation:
Any renovation project on an old house will cost twice as much and take three times as long as originally estimated.
Any plumbing pipes you choose to replace during renovation will prove to be in excellent condition; those you decide to leave in place will be rotten.
Phelps's Law of Retributive Statistics:
An unexpectedly easy-to-handle sequence of events will be immediately followed by an equally long sequence of trouble.
Theory of the International Society of Philosophic Engineering:
In any calculation, any error which can creep in will do so.
Any error in any calculation will be in the direction of most harm.
In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from engineering handbooks) are to be treated as variables.
The best approximation of service conditions in the laboratory will not begin to meet those conditions encountered in actual service.
The most vital dimension on any plan or drawing stands the greatest chance of being omitted.
If only one bid can be secured on any project, the price will be unreasonable.
If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent production units will malfunction.
All delivery promises must be multiplied by a factor of 2.0.
Major changes in construction will always be requested after fabrication is nearly completed.
Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.
Interchangeable parts won't.
Manufacturer's specifications of performance should be multiplied by a factor of 0.5.
Salespeople's claims for performance should be multiplied by a factor of 0.25.
Installation and Operating Instructions shipped with the device will be promptly discarded by the Receiving Department.
Any device requiring service or adjustment will be least accessible.
Service Conditions as given on specifications will be exceeded.
If more than one person is responsible for a miscalculation, no one will be at fault.
Identical units which test in an identical fashion will not behave in an identical fashion in the field.
If, in engineering practice, a safety factor is set through service experience at an ultimate value, an ingenious idiot will promptly calculate a method to exceed said safety factor.
Warranty and guarantee clauses are voided by payment of the invoice.
Phone Booth Rule:
A lone dime always gets the number nearly right.
Pierson's Law:
If you're coasting, you're going downhill.
Pike Law of Punditry:
The successful pundit is provided more opportunities to say things than he has things worth saying.
Axiom of the Pipe. (Trischmann's Paradox)
A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.
Plotnick's Law:
The time of departure will be delayed by the square of the number of people involved.
Law of Political Erosion:
Once the erosion of power begins, it has a momentum all its own.
Politicians' Rules:
When the polls are in your favor, flaunt them.
When the polls are overwhelmingly unfavorable, either (a) ridicule and dismiss them or (b) stress the volatility of public opinion.
When the polls are slightly unfavorable, play for sympathy as a struggling underdog.
When too close to call, be surprised at your own strength.
The Pollyanna Paradox:
Every day, in every way, things get better and better; then worse again in the evening.
Potter's Law:
The amount of flak received on any subject is inversely proportional to the subject's true value.
Poulsen's Law:
When anything is used to its full potential, it will break.
Pournelle's Law of Costs and Schedules:
Everything costs more and takes longer.
Powell's Law:
Never tell them what you wouldn't do.
Law of Predictive Action:
The second most powerful phrase in the world is "Watch this!" The most powerful phrase is "Oh yeah? Watch this!"
Preudhomme's Law of Window Cleaning:
It's on the other side.
Price's Law of Politics:
It's easier to be a liberal a long way from home.
Price's Law of Science:
Scientists who dislike the restraints of highly organized research like to remark that a truly great research worker needs only three pieces of equipment -- a pencil, a piece of paper, and a brain. But they quote this maxim more often at academic banquets than at budget hearings.
The Principle Concerning Multifunctional Devices:
The fewer functions any device is required to perform, the more perfectly it can perform those functions.
Law of Probable Dispersal:
Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed. (also known as the How Come It All Landed On Me Law)
Laws of Procrastination:
Procrastination shortens the job and places the responsibility for its termination on someone else (the authority who imposed the deadline).
It reduces anxiety by reducing the expected quality of the project from the best of all possible efforts to the best that can be expected given the limited time.
Status is gained in the eyes of others, and in one's own eyes, because it is assumed that the importance of the work justifies the stress.
Avoidance of interruptions including the assignment of other duties can be achieved, so that the obviously stressed worker can concentrate on the single effort.
Procrastination avoids boredom; one never has the feeling that there is nothing important to do.
It may eliminate the job if the need passes before the job can be done.
Productivity Equation:
The productivity, P, of a group of people is:
P = N x T x (.55 - .00005 x N x (N - 1) )
where N is the number of people in the group and T is the number of hours in a work period.
Professional's Law:
Doctors, dentists, and lawyers are only on time for appointments when you're not.
Project scheduling "99" rule
The first 90 percent of the task takes 90 percent of the time. The last 10 percent takes the other 90 percent.
Proverbial Law:
For every proverb that so confidently asserts its little bit of wisdom, there is usually an equal and opposite proverb that contradicts it.
Public Relations Client Turnover Law:
The minute you sign a client is the minute you start to lose him.
First Rule of Public Speaking:
Nice guys finish fast.
Pudder's Law:
Anything that begins well ends badly. Anything that begins badly ends worse.
Puritan's Law:
Evil is live spelled backwards.
Corollary: If it feels good, don't do it.
Putney's Law:
If the people of a democracy are allowed to do so, they will vote away the freedoms which are essential to that democracy.
Putt's Law:
Technology is dominated by two types of people -- those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
Q
Q's Law:
No matter what stage of completion one reaches in a North Sea (oil) field, the cost of the remainder of the project remains the same.
R
Rakove's Laws of Politics:
The amount of effort put into a campaign by a worker expands in proportion to the personal benefits that he will derive from his party's victory.
The citizen is influenced by principle in direct proportion to his distance from the political situation.
Ralph's Observation:
It is a mistake to allow any mechanical object to realize that you are in a hurry.
Randolph's Cardinal Principle of Statecraft:
Never needlessly disturb a thing at rest.
Rangnekar's Modified Rules Concerning Decisions:
If you must make a decision, delay it.
If you can authorize someone else to avoid a decision, do so.
If you can form a committee, have them avoid the decision.
If you can otherwise avoid a decision, avoid it immediately.
Rapoport's Rule of the Roller-Skate Key:
Certain items which are crucial to a given activity will show up with uncommon regularity until the day when that activity is planned, at which point the item in question will disappear from the face of the earth.
Raskin's Zero Law:
The more zeros found in the price tag for a government program, the less Congressional scrutiny it will receive.
Law of Raspberry Jam:
The wider any culture is spread, the thinner it gets.
Rather's Rule:
In dealing with the press do yourself a favor. Stick with one of three responses: (a) I know and I can tell you, (b) I know and I can't tell you, or (c) I don't know.
Rayburn's Rule:
If you want to get along, go along.
Fundamental Tenet of Reform:
Reforms come from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.
Law of Reruns:
If you have watched a TV series only once, and you watch it again, it will be a rerun of the same episode.
Law of Research:
Enough research will tend to support your theory.
Law of Restaurant Acoustics:
In a restaurant with seats which are close to each other, one will always find the decibel level of the nearest conversation to be inversely proportional to the quality of the thought going into it.
Law of Revelation:
The hidden flaw never remains hidden.
First Law of Revision:
Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after -- and only after -- the plans are complete. (Often called the "Now they tell us!" Law.)
Corollary: In simple cases, presenting one obvious right way versus one obvious wrong way, it is often wiser to choose the wrong way, so as to expedite subsequent revision.
Second Law of Revision:
The more innocuous the modification appears to be, the further its influence will extend and the more plans will have to be redrawn.
Third Law of Revision:
If, when completion of a design is imminent, field dimensions are finally supplied as they actually are -- instead of as they were meant to be -- it is always easier to start all over.
Corollary: It is usually impractical to worry beforehand about interferences -- if you have none, someone will make one for you.
Fourth Law of Revision:
After painstaking and careful analysis of a sample, you are always told that it is the wrong sample and doesn't apply to the problem.
Richard's Complementary Rules of Ownership:
If you keep anything long enough you can throw it away.
If you throw anything away, you will need it as soon as it is no longer accessible.
Richman's Inevitables of Parenthood:
Enough is never enough.
The sun always rises in the baby's bedroom window.
Birthday parties always end in tears.
Whenever you decide to take the kids home, it is always five minutes earlier that they break into fights, tears, or hysteria.
Riddle's Constant:
There are coexisting elements in frustration phenomena which separate expected results from achieved results.
Riesman's Law:
An inexorable upward movement leads administrators to higher salaries and narrower spans of control.
Rigg's Hypothesis:
Incompetence tends to increase with the level of work performed. And, naturally, the individual's staff needs will increase as his level of incompetence increases.
Law of Road Construction:
After large expenditures of federal, state, and county funds; after much confusion generated by detours and road blocks; after greatly annoying the surrounding population with noise, dust, and fumes -- the previously existing traffic jam is relocated by one-half mile.
Robertson's Law:
Everything happens at the same time with nothing in between.
The Three Laws of Robotics:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Rodovic's Rule:
In any organization, the potential is much greater for the subordinate to manage his superior than for the superior to manage his subordinate.
Rodriguez's Observation:
A consultant is someone who, when hired to find out what time it is, borrows your watch to find out.
Corollary (Martin): If you hire a consultant to read your own watch to you, you got your money's worth.
Roemer's Law:
The rate of hospital admissions responds to bed availability. If we insist on installing more beds, they will tend to get filled.
Roger's Ratio:
One-third of the people in the United States promote, while the other two-thirds provide.
Rosenbaum's Rule:
The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
Rosenfield's Regret:
The most delicate component will be dropped.
Rosenstock-Huessy's Law of Technology:
All technology expands the space, contracts the time, and destroys the working group.
(Al) Ross's Law:
Bare feet magnetize sharp metal objects so they always point upward from the floor -- especially in the dark.
(Charles) Ross's Law:
Never characterize the importance of a statement in advance.
Rudin's Law:
In a crisis that forces a choice to be made among alternative courses of action, most people will choose the worse one possible.
Runamok's Law:
There are four kinds of people: those who sit quietly and do nothing, those who talk about sitting quietly and doing nothing, those who do things, and those who talk about doing things.
Runyon's Law:
The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.
First Rule of Rural Mechanics:
If it works, don't fix it.
Ryan's Law:
Make three correct guesses consecutively and you will establish yourself as an expert.
S
Sadat's Reminder:
Those who invented the law of supply and demand have no right to complain when this law works against their interest.
Sam's Axioms:
Any line, however short, is still too long.
Work is the crabgrass of life, but money is the water that keeps it green.
Sattinger's Law:
It works better if you plug it in.
Sattler's Law:
There are 32 points to the compass, meaning that there are 32 directions in which a spoon can squirt grapefruit; yet, the juice almost invariably flies straight into the human eye.
Saunders's Discovery:
Laziness is the mother of nine inventions out of ten.
Sayre's Third Law of Politics:
Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.
Schenk's First Principle of Industrial Market Economics:
Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry.
Schickel's TV Theorems:
Any dramatic series the producers want us to take seriously as a representation of contemporary reality cannot be taken seriously as a representation of anything -- except a show to be ignored by anyone capable of sitting upright in a chair and chewing gum simultaneously.
The only programs a grown-up can possibly stand are those intended for children. Or, more properly, those that cater to those pre-adolescent fantasies that most have never abandoned.
Schmidt's Law:
Never eat prunes when you're hungry.
Schmidt's Law (probably a different Schmidt):
If you mess with something long enough, it'll break.
Schuckit's Law:
All interference in human conduct has the potential for causing harm, no matter how innocuous the procedure may be.
Schultze's Law:
If you can't measure output, then you measure input.
Schumpeter's Observation of Scientific and Nonscientific Theories:
Any theory can be made to fit any facts by means of appropriate additional assumptions.
Old Scottish Prayer:
O Lord, grant that we may always be right, for Thou knowest we will never change our minds.
Scott's First Law:
No matter what goes wrong, it will probably look right.
Scott's Second Law:
When an error has been detected and corrected, it will be found to have been correct in the first place.
Corollary: After the correction has been found in error, it will be impossible to fit the original quantity back into the equation.
Screwdriver Syndrome:
Sometimes, where a complex problem can be illuminated by many tools, one can be forgiven for applying the one he knows best.
Segal's Law:
A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.
Law of Selective Gravity (the Buttered Side Down Law):
An object will fall so as to do the most damage.
Corollary (Klipstein): The most delicate component will be the one to drop.
Sells's Law:
The first sample is always the best.
Laws of Serendipity:
In order to discover anything you must be looking for something.
If you wish to make an improved product, you must already be engaged in making an inferior one.
Sevareid's Law:
The chief cause of problems is solutions.
Shaffer's Law:
The effectiveness of a politician varies in inverse proportion to his commitment to principle.
Shalit's Law:
The intensity of movie publicity is in inverse ratio to the quality of the movie.
Shanahan's Law:
The length of a meeting rises with the square of the number of people present.
Sharkey's Fourth Law of Motion:
Passengers on elevators constantly rearrange their positions as people get on and off so there is at all times an equal distance between all bodies.
Shaw's Principle:
Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.
Shelton's Laws of Pocket Calculators:
Rechargeable batteries die at the most critical time of the most complex problem.
When a rechargeable battery starts to die in the middle of a complex calculation, and the user attempts to connect house current, the calculator will clear itself.
The final answer will exceed the magnitude or precision or both of the calculator.
There are not enough storage registers to solve the problem.
The user will forget mathematics in proportion to the complexity of the calculator.
Thermal paper will run out before the calculation is complete.
Shirley's Law:
Most people deserve each other.
Short's Quotations:
Any great truth can -- and eventually will -- be expressed as a cliche. A cliche is a sure and certain way to dilute an idea. For instance, my grandmother used to say, "The black cat is always the last one off the fence." I have no idea what she meant, but at one time it was undoubtedly true.
Half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at.
Malpractice makes malperfect.
Neurosis is a communicable disease.
The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky.
Nature abhors a hero. For one thing, he violates the law of conservation of energy. For another, how can it be the survival of the fittest when the fittest keeps putting himself in situations where he is most likely to be creamed?
A little ignorance can go a long way.
Learn to be sincere. Even if you have to fake it.
There is no such thing as an absolute truth -- that is absolutely true.
Understanding the laws of nature does not mean we are free from obeying them.
Entropy has us outnumbered.
The human race never solves any of its problems -- it only outlives them.
Hell hath no fury like a pacifist.
Law of Selective Gravity:
An object will fall so as to do the most damage.
Sevareid's Law:
The chief cause of problems is solutions.
Mother Sigafoos's Observation:
A man should be greater than some of his parts.
Simmon's Law:
The desire for racial integration increases with the square of the distance from the actual event.
Simon's Law:
Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.
Sinner's Law of Retaliation:
Do whatever your enemies don't want you to do.
Skinner's Constant (Flannegan's Finagling Factor):
That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided into, added to, or subtracted from the answer you got, gives you the answer you should have gotten.
Skole's Rule for Antique Dealers:
Never simply say, "Sorry, we don't have what you're looking for." Always say, "Too bad, I just sold one the other day."
Law of Slide Presentation:
In any slide presentation, at least one slide will be upside down or backwards, or both.
Smith's Principles of Bureaucratic Tinkertoys:
Never use one word when a dozen will suffice.
If it can be understood, it's not finished yet.
Never be the first to do anything.
Snafu Equations:
Given any problem containing n equations, there will be n+1 unknowns.
An object or bit of information most needed, will be least available.
In any human endeavor, once you have exhausted all possibilities and fail, there will be one solution, simple and obvious, highly visible to everyone else.
Badness comes in waves.
First Law of Socio-Economics:
In a hierarchical system, the rate of pay for a given task increases in inverse ratio to the unpleasantness and difficulty of the task.
First Law of Socio-Genetics:
Celibacy is not hereditary.
Woods's Refutation of the First Law of Socio-Genetics:
On the contrary, if you never procreate, neither will your kids.
Sociology's Iron Law of Oligarchy:
In every organized activity, no matter the sphere, a small number will become the oligarchical leaders and the others will follow.
Sodd's First Law:
When a person attempts a task, he or she will be thwarted in that task by the unconscious intervention of some other presence (animate or inanimate). Nevertheless, some tasks are completed, since the intervening presence is itself attempting a task and is, of course, subject to interference.
Sodd's Second Law:
Sooner or later, the worst possible set of circumstances is bound to occur.
Corollary: Any system must be designed to withstand the worst possible set of circumstances.
Sodd's Other Law:
The degree of failure is in direct proportion to the effort expended and to the need for success.
Grandma Soderquist's Conclusion:
A chicken doesn't stop scratching just because the worms are scarce.
Spare Parts Principle:
The accessibility, during recovery of small parts which fall from the work bench, varies directly with the size of the part and inversely with its importance to the completion of the work underway.
Spark's Ten Rules for the Project Manager:
Strive to look tremendously important.
Attempt to be seen with important people.
Speak with authority; however, only expound on the obvious and proven facts.
Don't engage in arguments, but if cornered, ask an irrelevant question and lean back with a satisfied grin while your opponent tries to figure out what's going on -- then quickly change the subject.
Listen intently while others are arguing the problem. Pounce on a trite statement and bury them with it.
If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.
Obtain a brilliant assignment, but keep out of sight and out of the limelight.
Walk at a fast pace when out of the office -- this keeps questions from subordinates and superiors at a minimum.
Always keep the office door closed. This puts visitors on the defensive and also makes it look as if you are always in an important conference.
Give all orders verbally. Never write anything down that might go into a "Pearl Harbor File."
Specht's Meta-Law:
Under any conditions, anywhere, whatever you are doing, there is some ordinance under which you can be booked.
Sprinkle's Law:
Things always fall at right angles.
Stamp's Statistical Probability:
The government is extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics. These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases.
Steele's Plagiarism of Somebody's Philosophy:
Everyone should believe in something -- I believe I'll have another drink.
Steinbeck's Law:
When you need towns, they are very far apart.
Stephens's Soliloquy:
Finality is death. Perfection is finality. Nothing is perfect. There are lumps in it.
Stewart's Law of Retroaction:
It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Stockbroker's Declaration:
The market will rally from this or lower levels.
Stock Market Axiom:
The public is always wrong.
Stock's Observation:
You no sooner get your head above water than someone pulls your flippers off.
Stockmayer's Theorem:
If it looks easy, it's tough. If it looks tough, it's damn well impossible.
Sturgeon's Law:
Ninety percent of EVERYTHING is crud.
Sueker's Note:
If you need n items of anything, you will have n - 1 in stock.
Suhor's Law:
A little ambiguity never hurt anyone.
Law of Superiority:
The first example of superior principle is always inferior to the developed example of inferior principle.
Law of Superstition:
It's bad luck to be superstititious.
Survival Formula for Public Office:
Exploit the inevitable (which means, take credit for anything good which happens whether you had anything to do with it or not).
Don't disturb the perimeter (meaning don't stir up a mess unless you can be sure of the result).
Stay in with the Outs (the Ins will make so many mistakes, you can't afford to alienate the Outs).
Don't permit yourself to get between a dog and a lamppost.
Sutton's Law:
Go where the money is.
Swipple's Rule of Order:
He who shouts loudest has the floor.
T
Taxi Principle:
Find out the cost before you get in.
Terman's Law:
There is no direct relationship between the quality of an educational program and its cost.
Terman's Law of Innovation:
If you want a track team to win the high jump you find one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can jump one foot.
Fourth Law of Thermodynamics:
If the probability of success is not almost one, then it is damn near zero.
Thinking Man's Tautology:
If you think you're wrong, you're wrong.
Corollary: If you think you're wrong, you're right.
Thoreau's Law:
If you see a man approaching with the obvious intent of doing you good, run for your life.
Thoreau's Rule:
Any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.
Thurber's Conclusion:
There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.
Thwartz's Theorem of Low Profile:
Negative expectation thwarts realization, and self-congratulation guarantees disaster. (Or, simply put: If you think of it, it won't happen quite that way.)
Tipper's Law:
Those who expect the biggest tips provide the worst service.
Titanic Coincidence:
Most accidents in well-designed systems involve two or more events of low probability occurring in the worst possible combination.
Torquemada's Law:
When you are sure you're right, you have a moral duty to impose your will upon anyone who disagrees with you.
Transcription Square Law:
The number of errors made is equal to the sum of the squares employed.
Travel Axiom:
He travels fastest who travels alone . . . but he hasn't anything to do when he gets there.
First Law of Travel:
No matter how many rooms there are in the motel, the fellow who starts up his car at five o'clock in the morning is always parked under your window.
Trischmann's Paradox (Axiom of the Pipe):
A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.
Law of Triviality:
The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.
Troutman's Laws of Computer Programming (and see Peck's Programming Postulates)
Any running program is obsolete.
Any planned program costs more and takes longer.
Any useful program will have to be changed.
Any useless program will have to be documented.
The size of a program expands to fill all available memory.
The value of a program is inversely proportional to the weight of its output.
The complexity of a program grows until it exceeds the capability of its maintainers.
Any system that relies on computer reliability is unreliable.
Any system that relies on human reliability is unreliable.
Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers cannot write in English.
Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.
Truman's Law:
If you cannot convince them, confuse them.
Tuccille's First Law of Reality:
Industry always moves in to fill an economic vacuum.
Turnauckas's Observation:
To err is human; to really foul things up takes a computer.
Turner's Law:
Nearly all prophecies made in public are wrong.
Twain's Rule:
Only kings, editors, and people with tapeworm have the right to use the editorial "we".
Tylk's Law:
Assumption is the mother of all foul-ups.
U
Ubell's Law of Press Luncheons:
At any public relations luncheon, the quality of the food is inversely related to the quality of the information.
Uhlmann's Razor:
When stupidity is a sufficient explanation, there is no need to have recourse to any other.
Corollary (Law of Historical Causation): "It seemed like the thing to do at the time."
The Ultimate Law:
All general statements are false.
The Ultimate Principle:
By definition, when you are investigating the unknown, you do not know what you will find.
Umbrella Law:
You will need three umbrellas: one to leave at the office, one to leave at home, and one to leave on the train.
The Unapplicable Law:
Washing your car to make it rain doesn't work.
Universal Field Theory of Perversity (Mule's Law):
The probability of an event's occurring varies directly with the perversity of the inanimate object involved and inversely with the product of its desirability and the effort expended to produce it.
Unnamed Law:
If it happens, it must be possible.
The Unspeakable Law:
As soon as you mention something, if it's good, it goes away; if it's bad, it happens.
V
Vail's Axiom:
In any human enterprise, work seeks the lowest hierarchical level.
Vance's Rule of 2 1/2:
Any military project will take twice as long as planned, cost twice as much, and produce only half of what is wanted.
Lucy Van Pelt's Observation:
There must be one day above all others in each life that is the happiest.
Corollary: What if you've already had it?
Vique's Law:
A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.
Von Braun's Law of Gravity:
We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.
Vonnegut's Corollary:
Beauty may be only skin deep, but ugliness goes right to the core.
W
Waddell's Law of Equipment Failure:
A component's degree of reliability is directly proportional to its ease of accessibility (i.e., the harder it is to get to, the more often it breaks down).
Waffle's Law:
A professor's enthusiasm for teaching the introductory course varies inversely with the likelihood of his having to do it.
Wain's Conclusion:
The only people making money these days are the ones who sell computer paper.
Waldo's Observation:
One man's red tape is another man's system.
Walinsky's Law:
The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants.
Walinsky's First Law of Political Campaigns:
If there are twelve clowns in a ring, you can jump in the middle and start reciting Shakespeare, but to the audience, you'll just be the thirteenth clown.
Walker's Law:
Associate with well-mannered persons and your manners will improve. Run with decent folk and your own decent instincts will be strengthened. Keep the company of bums and you will become a bum. Hang around with rich people and you will end by picking up the check and dying broke.
Wallace's Observation:
Everything is in a state of utter dishevelment.
Walters's Law of Management:
If you're already in a hole, there's no use to continue digging.
Washington's Law:
Space expands to house the people to perform the work that Congress creates.
Watson's Law:
The reliability of machinery is inversely proportional to the number and significance of any persons watching it.
Rule of the Way Out:
Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.
Weaver's Law:
When several reporters share a cab on an assignment, the reporter in the front seat pays for all.
Corollary (O'Doyle): No matter how many reporters share a cab, and no matter who pays, each puts the full fare on his own expense account.
Corollary (Germond): When a group of newsmen go out to dinner together, the bill is to be divided evenly among them, regardless of what each one eats and drinks.
Weber-Fechner Law:
The least change in stimulus necessary to produce a perceptible change in response is proportional to the stimulus already existing.
Weidner's Queries:
The tide comes in and the tide goes out, and what have you got?
They say an elephant never forgets, but what's he got to remember?
Weiler's Law:
Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.
Weinberg's Law:
If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
Corollary: An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.
Weisman's Law of Examinations:
If you're confident after you've just finished an exam, it's because you don't know enough to know better.
Wells's Law:
A parade should have bands OR horses, not both.
Westheimer's Rule:
To estimate the time it takes to do a task: estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by 2, and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus we allocate 2 days for a one hour task.
Whispered Rule:
People will believe anything if you whisper it.
White Flag Principle:
A military disaster may produce a better postwar situation than victory.
White's Chappaquiddick Theorem:
The sooner and in more detail you announce bad news, the better.
White's Observations of Committee Operation:
People very rarely think in groups; they talk together, they exchange information, they adjudicate, they make compromises. But they do not think; they do not create.
A really new idea affronts current agreement.
A meeting cannot be productive unless certain premises are so shared that they do not need to be discussed, and the argument can be confined to areas of disagreement. But while this kind of consensus makes a group more effective in its legitimate functions, it does not make the group a creative vehicle -- it would not be a new idea if it didn't -- and the group, impelled as it is to agree, is instinctively hostile to that which is divisive.
White's Statement:
Don't lose heart . . .
Owen's Comment on White's Statement: . . . they might want to cut it out . . .
Byrd's Addition to Owen's Comment on White's Statement: . . . and they want to avoid a lengthy search.
Whole Picture Principle:
Research scientists are so wrapped up in their own narrow endeavors that they cannot possibly see the whole picture of anything, including their own research.
Corollary: The Director of Research should know as little as possible about the specific subject of research he is administering.
Wicker's Law:
Government expands to absorb revenue, and then some.
Wilcox's Law:
A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the pants.
Williams and Holland's Law:
If enough data is collected, anything may be proven by statistical methods.
Will's Rule of Informed Citizenship:
If you want to understand your government, don't begin by reading the Constitution. (It conveys precious little of the flavor of today's statecraft.) Instead read selected portions of the Washington telephone directory containing listings for all the organizations with titles beginning with the word "National".
Flip Wilson's Law:
You can't expect to hit the jackpot if you don't put a few nickles in the machine.
Wilson's Law of Demographics:
The public is not made up of people who get their names in the newspapers.
Wingo's Axiom:
All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.
First Law of Wing-Walking:
Never leave hold of what you've got until you've got hold of something else.
Witten's Law:
Whenever you cut your fingernails, you will find a need for them an hour later.
Wober's SNIDE Rule (Satisfied Needs Incite Demand Excesses):
Ideal goals grow faster than the means of attaining new goals allow.
Wolf's Law (An Optimistic View of a Pessimistic World):
It isn't that things will necessarily go wrong (Murphy's Law), but rather that they will take so much more time and effort than you think if they are not to go wrong.
Wolf's Law of Decision-Making:
Major actions are rarely decided by more than four people. If you think a larger meeting you're attending is really "hammering out" a decision, you're probably wrong. Either the decision was agreed to by a smaller group before the meeting began, or the outcome of the larger meeting will be modified later when three or four people get together.
Wolf's Law of History Lessons:
Those who don't study the past will repeat its errors. Those who do study it will find OTHER ways to err.
Wolf's Law of Management:
The tasks to do immediately are the minor ones; otherwise, you'll forget them. The major ones are often better to defer. They usually need more time for reflection. Besides, if you forget them, they'll remind you.
Wolf's Law of Meetings:
The only important result of a meeting is agreement about next steps.
Wolf's Law of Planning:
A good place to start from is where you are.
Wolf's Law of Tactics:
If you can't beat them, have them join you.
Woltman's Law:
Never program and drink beer at the same time.
Woman's Equation:
Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.
Wood's Law:
The more unworkable the urban plan, the greater the probability of implementation.
Woods's Incomplete Maxims:
All's well that ends.
A penny saved is a penny.
Don't leave things unfinishe
Woods's Laws of Procrastination:
Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
Procrastinate today! (Tomorrow may be too late.)
NOW is the time to do things later!
If at first you don't succeed, why try again?
Woodward's Law:
A theory is better than an explanation.
Worker's Dilemma Law (Management's Put-Down Law):
No matter how much you do, you'll never do enough.
What you don't do is always more important than what you do do.
Wynne's Law:
Negative slack tends to increase.
Wyszkowski's Theorem:
Regardless of the units used by either the supplier or the customer, the manufacturer shall use his own arbitrary units convertible to those of either the supplier or the customer only by means of weird and unnatural conversion factors.
Wyszowski's First Law:
No experiment is reproducible.
Wyszkowski's Second Law:
Anything can be made to work if you fiddle with it long enough.
Y
Yapp's Basic Fact:
If a thing cannot be fitted into something smaller than itself, some dope will do it.
Yolen's Guide for Self-Praise:
Proclaim yourself "World Champ" of something -- tiddly-winks, rope- jumping, whatever -- send this notice to newspapers, radio, TV, and wait for challengers to confront you. Avoid challenges as long as possible, but continue to send news of your achievements to all media. Also, develop a newsletter and letterhead for communications.
Young's Handy Guide to the Modern Sciences:
If it is green or it wiggles -- it is Biology.
If it stinks -- it is Chemistry.
If it doesn't work -- it is Physics.
Young's Law:
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Corollary: The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
Z
Zellar's Law:
Every newspaper, no matter how tight the news hole, has room for a story on another newspaper increasing its newsstand price.
Zimmerman's Law:
Regardless of whether a mission expands or contracts, administrative overhead continues to grow at a steady rate.
Zimmerman's Law of Complaints:
Nobody notices when things go right.
Zusmann's Rule:
A successful symposium depends on the ratio of meeting to eating.
Zymurgy's First Law of Evolving System Dynamics:
Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can. (Old worms never die, they just worm their way into larger cans.)
Zymurgy's Seventh Exception to Murphy's Laws:
When it rains, it pours.
Zymurgy's Law of Volunteer Labour:
People are always available for work in the past tense.

Second part of Merphy's Laws First part of Merphy's Laws

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This page was last updated   05.22.99
Collection:Paul Dickson, Arthur Bloch (original), Don Woods (update, last Aug 18, 1979)
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