By Richard Peterson
enjoyed this column about rules by Myrna Lyng in the Traill County
Tribune at Mayville:
Imagine this scenario: you're in a crowded airplane on a long
You're sitting in front of a bored two-year-old who kicks your seat
tirelessly, as if his legs are powered by the Energizer Bunny. He
must be an orphan, because no adult does anything to stop him.
Or try this: you're at a basketball game in a crowded gym and find
that you are seated right in front of Chatty Cathy and her best
friend. You know that if you turned to look, they would be wearing
those T-shirts that say "I'm talking and I can't shut up."
You're wearing black pants. Others in the room are wearing
khaki-colored or other light shades. Into the room comes the
family's white Angora cat, shedding like mad. Guess whose lap the
cat makes a beeline for? Yup. You got it.
I'll bet that in each case, you were mature and just suffered
through the situation. But you might have sighed a little sigh and
asked, "Why me?"
Because of the real rules for life, that's why.
In school we learned that we are governed by the rules of science
and mathematics. For example, the Law of Action and Reaction states
that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I
can't think of an example of how that manifests itself, but it does.
Well, maybe Luce's Law "No good deed goes unpunished." OK, how about
Newton's Law of Gravity? We all understand that. Stuff falls.
For centuries scientists have postulated upon these and other laws,
as if the Universe were perfect. Well, hello. The world is not
perfect, even in the rational world of science, and there have been
lots of exceptions to prove it. Things get screwed up. So little by
little, people have discovered universal truths that help explain
how and why things get messed up in their lives.
For example, if your paperboy throws your paper into the bushes five
days in a row, it can be explained by Newton's Law of Gravity. But
it takes Murphy's Law to explain why it happened to you.
In case you've forgotten, Murphy's Law says that "If something can
go wrong, it will."
That's probably the most familiar of Murphy's Laws, but there are
others that apply to most of us several times a day. Everything
takes longer than you expect. If there is a possibility of several
things going wrong, the one that will go wrong first will be the one
that will do the most damage.
If you play with something long enough, it will break.
Dozens of other people have come up with rules or laws that help
explain an altogether imperfect world. And yes, you guessed right.
I'm going to tell you some:
Allen's Law. Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.
Airplane Law. When the airplane you're on is late, the plane you
want to transfer to is on time (And, I might add, at the farthest
end of the terminal).
Army Axiom. An order that can be misunderstood will be
Bill Babcock's Law. If it can be borrowed and it can be broken, you
will borrow it and you will break it.
Bombeck's Principle. An ugly carpet will last forever (My principle:
The dog will never upchuck on a spot behind the couch. He will do it
right in the middle of the carpet. The stain will also last
The First Discovery of Christmas Morning. Batteries not included
(small print on the side of the box). (My discovery: any place that
sells batteries will be closed. Furthermore, your grandchildren will
not want to play with any other toy than that one.) Corcoran's Law
of Packrattery. All files, papers, memos, etc. that you save will
never be needed until such time as they are disposed of, when they
will become essential and indispensable.
Cornuelle's Law. Authority tends to assign jobs to those least able
to do them.
Dieter's Law. Food that tastes the best has the highest number of
Ettore's Observation. The other line moves faster. And don't try to
change lines. The Other Line -- the one you were in originally --
will then move faster. (My observation: at a church potluck, the
casseroles in the other line always look tastier. So do the
desserts.) 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.
Gumperson's Law. The good parking spaces are always on the other
side of the street.
Occam's Electric Razor. The most difficult light bulb to replace
burns out first and most frequently.
Perversity of Production Precept. If it works well, they'll stop
There are more, of course. But the moral of the story is this: Stuff
happens. And you know what? As sure as that apple is going to fall
from the tree, it's going to bonk someone on the head. One way or
another, some law is gonna getcha. And, according to Barton's
Amendment to Murphy's Law, "even if it can't, it might."
Thanks to Steve "Finney" Farrington of Mesa, Ariz. we are able to
definitely prove that global warming is occurring.