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12/14/2005 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

I 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 flight.
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 misunderstood.
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 forever).
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 calories.
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 making it.
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.

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