MURPHY.TXT - Murphy's Laws


1.  If you try to call a BBS, no matter what hour, it is busy.

2.  When you have been downloading for more than an hour, a major
    powerbreak will occur just as you are transferring the last bytes.

3.  If you are a sysop and want to use your machine, a 300-baud user will
    call just as you are about to enter DOS.
    3.1  His first choice will be to download something.

4.  If you forget to turn off the chat-function, someone will page you just
    after you have fallen asleep.

5.  When you have called the most impossible and distant BBS's to avoid
    him, you can be sure that ** ** has left some smartass messages

                          MURPHY'S LAWS

THE PRIME AXIOM:     In any field of scientific endeavor, anything that
                     can go wrong, will.

2.   If the possibility exists of several things going wrong, the one that
     will go wrong is the one that will do the most damage.

3.   Everything will go wrong at one time.
     3.1  That time is always when you least expect it.

4.   If nothing can go wrong, something will.

5.   Nothing is as easy as it looks.

6.   Everything takes longer than you think.

7.   Left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.

8.   Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

9.   Given the most inappropriate time for something to go wrong, that's
     when it will occur.

10.  Mother Nature is a bitch.

     10.1  The universe is not indifferent to intelligence, it is actively
           hostile to it.

11.  If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked

12.  If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work,
     the answer can be obtained by simple inspection.

13.  Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to
     make it complex and wonderful.

14.  If it doesn't fit, use a bigger hammer.

15.  In an instrument or device characterized by a number of plus-or-minus
     errors, the total error will be the sum of all the errors adding in
     the same direction.

16.  In any given calculation, the fault will never be placed if more than
     one person is involved.

     16.1  In any given discovery, the credit will never be properly placed
           if more than one person is involved.

17.  All warranty and guarantee clauses become invalid upon payment of the
     final invoice.


1.   In any given price estimate, the cost of the equipment will exceed
     estimated expenditure by a factor of 3.

2.   Dimensions will always be expressed in the least useable terms.  For
     example, velocity will be expressed in furlongs/fortnight.

3.   If the breadbox trial model functions perfectly, the finished product
     will not percolate.

4.   In a mathematical calculation, any error that can creep in, will.  It
     will be in the  direction  that  will  do  the  most  damage to
     the calculation.

5.   In any collection of data, the figures that are obviously correct,
     beyond all need of checking, contain the errors.

6.   The probability of a dimension or value being omitted from a drawing
     is directly proportional to its importance.

7.   In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.

8.   Information necessitating a change in design will be conveyed to the
     designer after, and only after, the plans are complete.

9.   In simple cases, presenting one obvious  right way  vs.  one obvious
     wrong way, it is often wiser to choose the wrong way so as to
     expedite subsequent revisions.

10.  The more innocuous a modification appears to be, the further its
     influence will extend and the more plans will have to be redrawn.


1.   If a project requires n components, there will be n-1 components

2.   Interchangeable parts won't.

3.   Components that must not and cannot be assembled improperly will be.

4.   The most delicate component will be dropped.

5.   The construction and operation manual will be discarded with the
     packing material.  The garbage truck will have picked it up
     five minutes before the mad dash to the rubbish can.

6.   The necessity of making a major design change increases as the
     assembly and wiring of the unit approach completion.

     A dropped tool will land where it will do the most damage.

8.   A component selected at random from a group having a 99% reliability
     will be a member of the 1% group.

9.   Tolerances will accumulate unidirectionally toward maximum difficulty
     of assembly.

10.  The availability of a component is inversely proportional to the need
     for that component.

11.  If a particular resistance is needed, that value will not be available.
     Furthermore, it cannot be developed with any series or parallel

12.  After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found
     on the bench.


1.   Any wire cut to length will be too short.

2.   Milliammeters will be connected across the power source, voltmeters in
     series with it.

3.   The probability of an error in the schematic is directly proportional
     to the trouble it can cause.

4.   Identical units tested under identical conditions will not be identical
     on the final test after being buried under other components and wiring.

5.   A self starting oscillator won't.

6.   A crystal oscillator will oscillate at the wrong frequency -- if it
     oscillates at all.

7.   A p-n-p transistor will be found to be an n-p-n.

8.   A fail-safe circuit will destroy others.

9.   If a circuit cannot fail, it will.

10.  A transistor protected by a fast-acting fuse will protect the fuse by
     blowing first.

11.  Probability of failure of a component is inversely proportional to the
     ease of repair or replacement.

     Some idiot has left open the number two impulse vent.(Check the position
     of all switches, knobs, and dials before turning on a piece of
     equipment.  Both you and the equipment will live longer.)


1.   After the 24th cabinet-to-chassis screw has been removed to replace the
     under chassis fuse, it will be observed that the line cord plug has
     become disengaged from the a.c. receptacle.

2.   After the 24th cabinet-to-chassis screw has been replaced, the driver tube
     will be found under the schematic on the bench.

3.   The bleeder resistor will quit discharging the filter capacitors as the
     operator reaches into the power supply enclosure.


1.   In any program, any error which can creep in will eventually do so.

2.   Not until the program has been in production for at least six months will
     the most harmful error be discovered.

3.   Any constants, limits, or timing formulas that appear in the
     manufacturer's literature should be treated as variables.

4.   The most vital parameter in any subroutine stands the greatest chance of
     being left out of the calling sequence.

5.   If only one compiler can be secured for a piece of hardware, the compil-
     ation times will be exorbitant.

6.   If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent systems will

7.   Job control cards that positively cannot be arranged in improper  order
     will be.

8.   Interchangeable tapes won't.

9.   If more than one person has programmed a malfunctioning routine, no one is
     at fault.

10.  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.

11.  Duplicated object decks which test in identical fashion will not give
     identical results at remote sites.

12.  Manufacturer's hardware and software support ceases with payment for the

13.  At least one critical test tape will be lost, misplaced, destroyed, or
     written over.

14.  What goes up must come down---and can be expected to do so in the middle
     of your job.

15.  Any given program, when running, is obsolete.

16.  Any given program costs more and takes longer.

17.  If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.

18.  If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.

19.  Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capability of the programmer
     who must maintain it.


                             FINAGLE'S LAWS:

1.   No matter what result is anticipated, there is always someone willing to
     fake it.

2.   No matter what the result, there is always someone eager to misinterpret

3.   No matter what happens, there is always someone who believes it happened
     according to his pet theory.

                             FINAGLE'S CREED

     Science is Truth;  don't be misled by facts.

                            THE FINAGLE FACTOR
  (Sometimes called the SWAG(Scientific Wild-Assed Guess) Constant)

     That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to, or
     subtracted from the answer which you got, yields the answer you
     should have gotten.

     [note]   Items such as 'Finagle's Constant' and the more subtle 'Bougerre
              Factor' are loosely grouped, in mathematics, under constant
              variables, or, if you prefer, variable constants.

     Finagle's Constant, a multiplier of the zero-order term, may be
     characterized as changing the universe to fit the equation.

     The Bougerre (pronounced 'bugger') Factor is characterized as changing the
     equation to fit the universe.  It is also known as the 'Soothing Factor';
     mathematically similar to the damping factor, it has the characteristic
     of dropping the subject under discussion to zero importance.

     A combination of the two, the Diddle Coefficient, is characterized as
     changing things so that universe and equation appear to fit without
     requiring a change in either.

                            FINAGLE'S COROLLARY

     On a seasonally adjusted basis, there are only six months in a year.


     All scientific discoveries are first recorded on napkins or tablecloths.
     Engineering advances are drawn inside matchbook covers.  Keep supplies
     of them handy at all times.

1.   You can't win.

2.   You can't break even.

3.   You can't get out of the game.

     The perversity of the universe tends towards a maximum.

                             ALLEN'S AXIOM

     When all else fails, read the directions.

                            RULES OF THE LAB

1.   When you don't know what you're doing, do it neatly.

2.   Experiments must be reproduceable, they should fail the same way
     each time.

3.   First draw your curves, then plot your data.

4.   Experience is directly proportional to equipment ruined.

5.   A record of data is essential, it shows you were working.

6.   To study a subject best, understand it thoroughly before you start.

7.   To do a lab really well, have your report done well in advance.

8.   If you can't get the answer in the usual manner, start at the answer and
     derive the question.

9.   If that doesn't work, start at both ends and try to find a common middle.

10.  In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.

11.  Do not believe in miracles---rely on them.

12.  Team work is essential.  It allows you to blame someone else.

13.  All unmarked beakers contain fast-acting, extremely toxic poisons.

14.  Any delicate and expensive piece of glassware will break before any use
     can be made of it. (Law of Spontaneous Fission)


1.   In any collection of data, the figures that most closely confirm the
     theory are wrong.

2.   No one you ask for help will see the mistakes either.

3.   Any nagging intruder who stops by with unsought advice will see them

4.   If an experiment works, you must be using the wrong equipment.

5.   An experiment may be considered successful if no more than half the data
     must be discarded to agree with the theory.

6.   No experiment is ever a complete failure.  It can serve as a bad example.

7.   Always leave room, when writing a report, to add an explanation if it
     doesn't work (Rule of the Way Out).

                             CLARKE'S LAWS

1.   When a distinguished but elderly scientist says that something is
     possible, he is almost certainly right.  When he says it is impossible,
     he is very probably wrong.

2.   The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond
     them into the impossible.

3.   Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

                          THE NO HAIR THEOREM

     Black holes have no hair.

                            GUNNERSEN'S LAW

     The probability of a given event is inversely proportional to it's

                          GLASSER'S COROLLARY

     If, of the seven hours you spend at work, six hours and fifty-five
     minutes are spent working at your desk, and the rest of the time
     you throw the bull with  your  cubicle-mate,  the time  at which
     your supervisor will walk in and ask what  you're  doing  can be
     determined to within five minutes.

                              WEILER'S LAW

     Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.


     Murphy was an optimist.

                             MESKIMEN'S LAW

     There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

                             THE FIFTH RULE

     You have taken yourself too seriously.

                             JONES'S LAW

     The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can
     blame it on.

                           LAW OF COMMUNICATION

     The inevitable result of improved and enlarged communications between
     different levels in a hierarchy is a vastly increased area of

                           LORD FALKLAND'S RULE

     When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make
     a decision.

                              THE ARMY AXIOM

     Any order that can be understood has been misunderstood.

                              SEVAREID'S LAW

     The chief cause of problems is solutions.

                               JONES' MOTTO

     Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.

                               MATSCH'S LAW

     It is better to have a horrible ending than to have horrors without end.

                             ALLISON'S PRECEPT

     The best simple-minded test of expertise in a particular area is the
     ability to win money in a series of bets on future occurrences in that

                             McNAUGHTON'S RULE

     Any argument worth making within the bureaucracy must be capable of being
     expressed in a simple declarative statement that is obviously true once

                              KIRKLAND'S LAW

     The usefulness of any meeting is in inverse proportion to the attendance.

                               BECKER'S LAW

     It is much harder to find a job than to keep one.

                   O'BRIEN'S PRINCIPLE (The 357.73 Theory)

     Auditors always reject any expense account with a bottom line divisible
     by 5 or 10.

                       THE FIRST LAW OF OFFICE HOLDERS

     Get re-elected.

                             THE NIXON PRINCIPLE

     If two wrongs don't make a right, try three.

                              BELSKY'S COROLLARY

     Never trust anyone who volunteers to assume authority.

                                 WEIKER'S LAW

     Government expands to absorb revenue and then some.

                              PARKINSON'S LAWS

1.   Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

2.   The thing to be done swells in perceived importance and complexity in a
     direct ratio with the time spent in its completion.

3.   Expenditures rise to meet income.

4.   If there is a way to delay an important decision, the good bureaucracy,
     public or private, will find it.

5.   The number of people in any working group tends to increase regardless of
     the amount of work to be done.

                              GUMMIDGE'S LAW

     The amount of expertise varies in inverse proportion to the number of
     statements understood by the general public.

                            FITZ-GIBBON'S LAW

     Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved with the

                             SHANAHAN'S LAW

     The length of a meeting rises with the square of the number of people

                               RUDIN'S LAW

     In a crisis that forces a choice to be made among alternative courses of
     action, most people will choose the worst one possible.

                              HAGERTY'S LAW

     If you lose your temper at a newspaper columnist, he'll get rich, or
     famous or both.

                              ROSS' LAW

     Never characterize the importance of a statement in advance.


     When it rains, it pours.


     The shortest distance between two points is under construction.


     No books are lost by loaning except those you particularly wanted to keep.

                             THE PETER PRINCIPLE

     In every hierarchy, whether it be government or business, every employee
     tends to rise to his level of incompetence.  Every post tends to be
     filled by an employee incompetent to execute its duties.

                              PETER'S THEOREM

     Incompetence plus incompetence equals incompetence.

                             PETER'S INVERSION

     Internal consistency is valued more highly than efficiency.

                              PETER'S PARADOX

     Employees in a hierarchy do not really object to incompetence in their

                              PETER'S PLACEBO

     An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.

                             JENKINSON'S LAW

     It won't work.

                              PUDDER'S LAW

     Anything that begins well ends badly.

                         LES MISERABLES METALAW

     All laws, whether good, bad, or indifferent, must be obeyed to the letter.

                               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

                              KITMAN'S LAW

     Pure drivel tends to drive off the TV screen ordinary drivel.

                               DOW'S LAW

     In a hierarchical organization, the higher level, the greater the

                           SATTINGER'S LAW

     It works better if you plug it in.


     You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to

                            MALINOWSKI'S LAW

     Looking from far above, from our high places of safety in the developed
     civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic.

                            THE HARVARD LAW

     Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature,
     volume, humidity, and other variables the organism will do as it damn
     well pleases.


1.   Think before you act; it's not your money.

2.   All good management is the expression of one great idea.

3.   No executive devotes effort to proving himself wrong.

4.   Cash in must exceed cash out.

5.   Management capability is always less than the organization actually needs.

6.   Either an executive can do his job or he can't

7.   If sophisticated calculations are needed to justify an action, don't
     do it.

8.   If you are doing something wrong, you will do it badly.

9.   If you are attempting the impossible you will fail.

10.  The easiest way to make money is to stop losing it.

                         PARETO'S LAW(The 20/80 Law)

     20% of the customers account for 80% of the turnover, 20% of the parts
     account for 80% of the cost, and so forth.

                            STURGEON'S LAW

     90% of everything is bull.


     Once you open a can of worms, the only way you can recan them is to use a
     larger can.  (Old worms never die; they just worm their way into larger

                               OSBORN'S LAW

     Variables won't, constants aren't.

                           THE SNAFU EQUATIONS

1.   Given any problem containing N equations, there will be N+1 unknowns.

2.   The object or bit of information most needed will be least available.

3.   The device requiring service or adjustment will be least accessible.

4.   In any human eneavor, once you have exhausted all possibilities and
     failed, there will be one solution, simple, obvious, and highly visible
     to everyone else.

5.   Badness comes in waves.


     Any tool dropped while repairing an automobile will roll under the car to
     the vehicle's exact geographic center.

                                 PUPIN'S LAW

     The elevator is NEVER going in the direction you want to go.


     While byrographic systems are typically encountered in substrata of earthy
     or mineral matter in concreted state,  discrete substrata elements
     occasionly display a roughly spherical configuration which, in
     presence of suitable gravitational and other effects, lends itself to
     combined translatory and rotary motion  One notices in such caes an
     absence of the otherwise typical accretion of byrophyta; we therefore

                       CANADA BILL JOHNE'S MOTTO

     It's morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

                            CHEOP'S LAW

     Nothing EVER gets built on schedule or within budget.


     Always listen to experts.  They'll tell you what can't be done and why.
     Then do it.

     If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.

     Most 'scientists'  are bottle washers and button sorters.

     An elephant: a mouse built to government specifications.

     The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility.  And
     vice versa.

     Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

     The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science
     requires reasoning, while those other subjects require merely

     Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields.  But experts
     often think so.  The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely
     they are to think so.

     Natural laws have no pity.

     Climate is what we expect.  Weather is what we get.

     A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

                            THE GIGO LAW

     Deductive logic is tautological; there is no way to get a new truth out of
     it, and it manipulates false statements as readily as true ones.  If you
     fail to remember this, it can trip you --- with perfect  logic.  This is
     known as 'Garbage In --- Garbage Out'.

                 Copyright (C) 1978 by the Columbia Science Fiction Society

Care of Omni Mag.:

1) Hofstadter's  Law: "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you
        take Hofstadter's Law into account."

2) Morton's Law: "If rats are experimented upon, they will develop cancer."

3) Epstein's Axiom: "With extremely few exceptions, nothing is worth
        the trouble."

4) Mathis' Rule: "It is bad luck to be superstitious."

5) Laura's Law: "No child throws up in the bathroom."

6) "If there is a opinion, facts will be found to support it."
                        -- Judy Sproles.

7) "Rich folks get more strokes."  -- Greg Beil.

8) "If A = B and B = C, then A = C except where void or prohibited by law".
                        -- Roy Santoro.

9) Preudhomme's Law of Window Cleaning: "It's on the other side."
                        -- Doug Preudhomme

10) "Anything that happens enough times to irritate you will happen at
        least once more."       -- Tom Parkins

11) Slick's Three Laws of the Universe: "(1) Nothing in the known universe
        travels faster than a bad check.  (2) A quarter-ounce of
        chocolate = four pounds of fat.  (3) There are two types of dirt:
        the dark kind, which is attracted to light objects, and the light
        kind, which is attracted to dark objects."
                                -- Ely Slick

12) The two laws of Frisbee: "(1) The most powerful force in the world is
        that of a disc straining to land under a car, just out of reach
        (this force is technically termed 'car suck');  (2) Never precede
        any maneuver by a comment more predictive than 'Watch this!'"

13) (Sam) Goldwyn's Law: "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's
        printed on."

14) (Murray) Gell-Mann's Law: "Whatever isn't forbidden is required; thus, if
        if there's no reason why something shouldn't exist, then it
        must exist."

15) (Mark) Twain's Rule: "Only kings, editors, and people with tapeworms
        have the right to use the editorial 'we'."

16) "Bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. Bodies at rest tend to
        remain in bed."         -- Dave Tewksbury

17) "The probability of someone watching you is proportiox'h:a t/VL4hhhhhPtupidity of your action."      -- A. Kindsvater

18) "Infl\	86YYV:le proportional to the cost of the periodical
        that reports it."               -- Jack Rosenberg

19) Hurewitz's Memory Principle: "The chance of forgetting something is
        directly proportional"
                                -- Lane Hurewitz

20) Corry's Law: "Paper is always strongest at the perforations."
                                -- Carolyn M. Corry
             PUPIN'S LAW

     The elevator is NEVER going in the direction you want to go.


     While byrographic systems are typically encountered in substrata of earthy
     or mineral matter in concreted state,  discrete substrata elements
     occasionly display a roughly spherical configuration which, in
     presence of suitable gravitational and other effects, lends itself to
     combined translatory and rotary motion  One notices in such caes an
     absence of the otherwise typical accretion of byrophyta; we therefore

                       CANADA BILL JOHNE'S MOTTO

     It's morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

                            CHEOP'S LAW

     Nothing EVER gets built on schedule or within budget.