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Murphy's Law Dictionary N - S

Murphy's Laws N - S


The N-1 Law

If you need four screws for the job, the first three are easy to find.

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

1. Research is reading two books that have never been read in order to write a third that will never be read.

2. A consultant is an ordinary person a long way from home.

3. 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.

NBC's Addendum to Murphy's Law

You never run out of things that can go wrong.

Nef's Law

There is a solution to every problem; the only difficulty is finding it.

Nessen's Law

Secret sources are more credible.

Law of new civically backed football stadiums

If they build it, you will pay.

Law of New Fangled Gadgetry

The most expensive component is the one that breaks.

The New Math Version of Murphy's Law

If there is a 50/50 chance of something going wrong, nine times out of ten it will.

New Theory of Relativity

How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on.

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.

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.

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.

Nobel Principle

Only someone who understands something absolutely can explain it so no one else can understand it.

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.

Nonreciprocal Laws of Expectations

1. Negative expectations yield negative results.

2. Positive expectations yield negative results.

North Carolina Equine Paradox


Nowlan's Truism

An 'acceptable level of unemployment' means that the government economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.

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'Brian's Law

If you change lines, the one you just left will start to move faster than the one you are now in.

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 5 or 10.

O'Brien's Rule

Nothing is ever done for the right reason.

O'Reilly's Law of the Kitchen

Cleanliness is next to impossible.

O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Laws

Murphy was an optimist...

Jones' Extension to O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Laws

Not just an optimist- he was a hopeless romantic.

Oaks's Unruly Laws for Lawmakers

1. Law expands in proportion to the resources available for its enforcement.

2. Bad law is more likely to be supplemented than repealed.

3. Social legislation cannot repeal physical laws.

Law of Observation

Nothing looks as good close up as it does from far away.

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.


1. The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be correct.

2. Whenever two hypotheses cover the facts, use the simpler of the two.

3. 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.

Old Engineer's Law

The larger the project or job, the less time there is to do it.

Old Scottish Prayer

O Lord, grant that we may always be right, for Thou knowest we will never change our minds.

Oliver's Law of Location

No matter where you are, there you are.

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.

Ophthalmologist's Principle

A flying particle will seek the nearest eye.

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.

Law of Organization

Disorder expands proportionately to the tolerance for it.

Organizational Law

The less work an organization produces, the more frequently it reorganizes.

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.

Otoole's Axiom

One child is not enough, but two are too many.

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.


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 thing being equal, all things are never equal.

Paradoxical Law

Doing it the hard way is always easier.

Pardo's Postulates

1. Anything good is either illegal, immoral, or fattening.

2. The three faithful things in life are money, a dog, and an old woman.

3. 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 Law of Political Statements

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

Parker's Prophesies

1. If anything is used to it's full potential, it will break.

2. Anything labeled "new" and/or "improved" isn't.

3. If an item is advertised as "under $50.00," you can bet it's not $19.95.

4. The one you want is never the one on sale.

5. If you like it, they don't have it in your size.

6. You never want the one you can afford.

Parker's Rule of Parliamentary Procedure

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

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.

Parking Laws

Parking place Defined: A huge space large enough for six cars on the other side of the street.


1. As soon as you have made your U Turn to take one of the places six cars come along and take all of them all.

2. If you have to park six blocks away and walk back to the building, you will find two new parking spaces right in front of the building entrance when you get there.

3. If only two cars are left in a huge parking lot, one will be blocking the other.

Parkinson's Axioms

1. An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.

2. Officials make work for each other.

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 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 Laws

1. 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.

2. Expenditures rise to meet income.

3. Expansion means complexity; and complexity decay.

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

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

6. The progress of science varies inversely with the number of journals published.

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.

Parson's Laws

1. If you break a cup or plate, it will not be the one that was already chipped or cracked.

2. A place you want to get to is always just off the edge of the map you happen to have handy.

3. A meeting lasts at least 1 1/2 hours however short the agenda.

The Party Law

The more food you prepare, the less your guests eat.

Pastore's Comment on Michehl's Theorem

Nothing is ultimate.

Pastore's Truths

1. Even paranoids have enemies.

2. Most jobs are marginally better than daytime TV.

3. On alcohol: four is one more than more than enough.

Patrick'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 (of Drinking)

You can't fall off the floor.

Paul's Law of Group Insurance

The illness you come down with is the one ailment not covered under your insurance policy.

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)

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 computer 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 compilation times will be exorbitant.

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

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 computer.

Peckham's Law (Beckhap's Law?)

Beauty times brains equals a constant.

Peer's Law

The solution to a problem changes the problem.

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.

Law of Permanence

Political power is as permanent as today's newspaper. Ten years from now, few will know or care who the most powerful man in any state was today.

Persig's Postulate

The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.

The Perverse Principles of Temperature Regulation

1. The air conditioner in your car will break down on the hottest day of the year, the heater will be stuck on "High", and all of the windows will be seized shut.

2. The heater will break down on the coldest day of the year, the air conditioner will be stuck on "High" and the windows will be seized open.

Law of the Perversity of Nature

You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.

Perversity of Nature Law

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.


1. Incompetence knows no barriers of time or place.

2. Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.

3. 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.

Peters principal

1. In any hierarchy, each individual rises to his own level of incompetence, and then remains there.

2. There is never time to do it right but there is always time to do it over.

3. People specialize in their area of greatest weakness.

4. Every organization has an allotted number of positions to be filled by incompetents.

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

1. Exultation.

2. Disenchantment.

3. Confusion.

4. Search for the Guilty.

5. Punishment of the Innocent.

6. Distinction for the Uninvolved.

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.

Phelps's Laws of Renovation

1. Any renovation project on an old house will cost twice as much and take three times as long as originally estimated.

2. 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.

Phillip's Principle of Observable Repairs

1. The number of witnesses available is inversely proportional to the skill you demonstrate.

2. There will never be anyone around to see you do something brilliant

3. When you really screw up, you will get network coverage with a 40 share.

4. The only thing you didn't check for a malfunction, will be the source of the problem, but you won't find it until you are called back.

Phone Booth Rule

A lone dime always gets the number nearly right.

The Third Law of Photography

If you did manage to get any good shots, they will be ruined when someone inadvertently opens the darkroom door and all of the dark leaks out.

Second Law of Physics

You cant push on a rope.

Pierce's Law

In any computer system, the machine will always misinterpret, misconstruct, misprint, or not evaluate any math or subroutines or fail to print any output on at least the first run through.

Corollary to Pierce's Law

When a compiler accepts a program without error on the first run, the program will not yield the desired output.

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.

Pineapple Principle

The best parts of anything are always impossible to remove from the worst parts.

Pitfall of Genius

No boss will keep an employee who is right all the time.

Plotnick's Law

The time of departure will be delayed by the square of the number of people involved.

The Point of No Return Law

The light at the end of the tunnel could turn out to be the headlight of an oncoming train.

Political Axioms

1. When attempting to predict and forecast macro-economic moves or economic legislation by a politician, never be misled by what he says; instead watch what he does.

2. Politicians will always inflate when given the opportunity.

Law of Political Erosion

Once the erosion of power begins, it has a momentum all its own.

Political Postulate

Formation of a party signals the dissolution of the movement.

Politicians' Rules

1. When the polls are in your favor, flaunt them.

2. When the polls are overwhelmingly unfavorable, either (a) ridicule and dismiss them or (b) stress the volatility of public opinion.

3. When the polls are slightly unfavorable, play for sympathy as a struggling underdog.

4. 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.

Pope's Law of Retroactivity

It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Postal Postulate

The announcement of the one event you most wanted to attend will arrive in the mail the day after the it has taken place.

First Postulate of Isomurphism

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.

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.

Pragmatic Principal

Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.

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.

Principle of Displaced Hassle

To beat the bureaucracy, make your problem their problem.

Principles of success

1. Everyone has a scheme for getting rich that will not work.

2. When in doubt, mumble. When in trouble, delegate.

3. Whatever you have done is never a complete failure. It can always serve as a bad example.

4. When the going gets tough, everyone leaves.

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

6. It's a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task to make them simple.

7. If you try to please everybody, nobody will like it.

Law of Probability

Random events tend to occur in groups:

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)

Law of problems

1. If one views the problem closely enough, he will recognize himself as part of the problem.

2. Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first. Corollary - Every solution breeds new problems.

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.

Professor Corey's Law

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

Professor Gordon's Rule of Evolving Bryophytic Systems

While bryophytic plants are typically encountered in substrata of earthy or mineral matter in concreted state, discrete substrata elements occasionally display a roughly spherical configuration which, in presence of suitable gravitational and other effects, lends itself to combined translatory and rotational motion. One notices in such cases an absence of the otherwise typical accretion of bryophyta. We conclude therefore that a rolling stone gathers no moss.

Rutger's Corollary - Generally the subjective value assignable to avian lifeforms, when encountered and considered within the confines of certain orders of woody plants lacking true meristematic dominance, as compared to a possible valuation of these same lifeforms when in the grasp of -- and subject to control by -- the manipulative bone/muscle/nerve complex typically terminating the forelimb of a member of the species homo sapiens (and possibly direct precursors thereof) is approximately five times ten to the minus first power.

Profundo's Laws on Staffing

1. The number of customers that visit your shop is inversely proportional to the number of employees you have to wait on them.

2. When your entire staff is available no one will come.

3. When you are there alone, everyone will come and they will be impatient.

First Law of Project Management

Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarraament of estimating the corresponding costs.

Sixth Law of Project Management

No matter what stage of completion one reaches, the cost of the remainder of the project remains constant.

Project scheduling "99" rule

The first 90 percent of the task takes 10 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.

Psychiatrist's At Home Test

One out of four people is mentally ill. Check three friends; If they're O.K. it must be you.

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.

Law of Public Transit

If you start walking, the first bus will come precisely when you are halfway between stops.

Public Transit Definitions

1. A bus is a vehicle in a bus zone on the other side of the street going in the opposite direction than which you wish to go.

2. A bus is a vehicle which left the bus zone one minute ago.

Pudder's Laws

1. Anything that begins well ends badly.

2. Anything that begins badly ends worse.

The Puncture Principle

Nails are selectively attracted to the inside wheel on a dual wheeled vehicle.

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'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.

The Queue Principal

The longer you wait in line, the greater the likelihood that you are in the wrong line.

Quigley's Law of Highway Driving

When travelling down the freeway, the first bug to hit a clean windshield will always land directly in front of the driver's face.


Rule of Radio Reception

Your walkman radio won't pick up the station you want to hear most.

Rakove's Laws of Politics

1. 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.

2. 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

1. If you must make a decision, delay it.

2. If you can authorize someone else to avoid a decision, do so.

3. If you can form a committee, have them avoid the decision.

4. 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.

RB's Five- Thumbs Postulate

Experience varies directly with the equipment ruined.

Rule of Reason

If nobody uses it, there's a reason.

Law of Regressive Achievement

Last year's was always better.

Relativity For Children

Time moves slower in a fast moving vehicle.

Repairman's Laws

The probability of arriving at the job site without a needed tool or with the wrong hardware are directly proportional with the square of the travel distance. Corollary - You will always have what you need when the job is next to your shop.

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.

Researchers Law

The closest library doesn't have the material you need.

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 Restitution

The time it takes to rectify a situation is inversely proportional to the time it took to do the damage. Example: it takes longer to glue a vase together than to break one.

Rev. Mahaffy's Observation

There's no such thing as a large whiskey.

Law of Revelation

The hidden flaw never remains hidden.

(Fyfe's) First Law of Revision

Information necessitiating 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)


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.

(Fyfe's) 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.

(Fyfe's) 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 simpler to start over from scratch.


It is usually impractical to worry beforehand about interferences -- if you have none, someone will make one for you.

(Fyfe's) 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.

Revolutionary Law

The sloppier the rebel uniform, the more likely the successful overthrow of the existing government.

Richard's Complementary Rules of Ownership

1. If you keep anything long enough you can throw it away.

2. If you throw anything away, you will need it as soon as it is no longer accessible.

Richman's Inevitables of Parenthood

1. Enough is never enough.

2. The sun always rises in the baby's bedroom window.

3. Birthday parties always end in tears.

4. 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.

Robert Lee's Truce

Judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgement.

Robert's Law of Space Sharing

The odds are 6:5 that if one has late classes, one's roommate will have the earliest possible classes.

Robertson's Law

Everything happens at the same time with nothing in between.

The Rockefeller Principle

Never do anything you wouldn't be caught be dead doing.

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.

Rodriguez's Observations On Consultants

1. A consultant is someone who, when hired to find out what time it is, borrows your watch to find out.

2. A consultant is a fool with a briefcase more than two miles from home.

3. Consultants are mystical people who ask a company for a number and sell it back to them. Corollary - If you hire a consultant to read your own watch to you, you've gotten 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.

Rooster's First Law on School Affairs

The exam will ask the only topic you didn't study.

First corollary - The Bonus Rescue question is harder than the regular ones.

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.

(Charles) Ross's Law

Never characterize the importance of a statement in advance.

(Al) Ross's Law

Bare feet magnetize sharp metal objects so they always point upward from the floor -- especially in the dark.

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.

The Fifth Rule

You have taken yourself too seriously.

Rules of Pratt

1. If a severe problem manifests itself, no solution is acceptable unless it is involved, expensive, and time consuming.

2. Sufficient moneys to do the job correctly the first time are not available, however, ample funds are much easier obtained for repeated revisions.

Rules regarding Fools

1. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

2. The only difference between the fool and the criminal who attacks a system is that the fool attacks unpredictably and on a broader front.

3. A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.

4. Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

5. Build a system that only a fool can use and only a fool will use it.

6. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

7. Never argue with a fool. People might not know the difference.

8. Any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.

9. 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.

10. Fools rush in where fools have been before.

11. The only difference between the fool and the criminal who attacks a system is that the fool attacks unpredictably and on a broader front.

12. A fool in a high station is like a man on the top of a small mountain: everything appears small to him and he appears small to everybody.

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.

Rune's Rule

If you don't care where you are, you ain't lost.

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 Application of Parkinson's Law

Possessions increase to fill the space available for their storage.

Ryan's Law

Make three correct guesses consecutively and you will establish yourself as an expert.


Sadat's Reminder

Those who invented the law of supply and demand have no right to complain when this law works against their interest.

Safeway Principles

The bag that breaks is the one with the eggs.

Salary Axiom

The pay raise is just large enough to increase your taxes and just small enough to have no effect on your take-home pay.

Sam Slick's Sophism

The number of salesmen that will call on you on any given day will be directly proportional to the amount and urgency of the work you have to get done.

Corollary - None of them will be selling anything you want.

Sam's Axioms

1. Any line, however short, is still too long.

2. Work is the crabgrass of life, but money is the water that keeps it green.

Samuels Postulate

Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.

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.

Sattlinger's Law

It works better if you plug it in.

Saunders's Discovery

Laziness is the mother of nine inventions out of ten.

The Sausage Principle

People who love sausage and respect the law should never watch either one being made.

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

1. 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.

2. 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.

Schmidt's Observation

All things being equal, a fat person uses more soap than a thin person.

Schmidt's Observations

Never eat prunes when you're hungry. All things being equal, a fat person uses more soap than a thin person.

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.

First Law of Science

You can observe a lot just by watching.

Rule of Scientific Endeavor

The simple explanation always follows the complex solution.

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.

Searchers Laws

1. You can always find what you're not looking for.

2. If a lost thing is found, something else will disappear.

3. If you file it, you'll know where it is but never need it. If you don't file it, you'll need it but never know where it is.

4. The first place to look for anything is the last place you would expect to find it.

5. You will always find what you have lost in the last place you look for it.

Law of Secrecy

The best way to publicize a governmental or political action is to attempt to hide it.

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.

By the way- what happends if you glue the bread with the buttered side up to a cat's back and drop it- will the cat float in the air? or vanish?

Jenning's Corollary to the Law of Selective Gravity

The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

Sells's Law

The first sample is always the best.

Sevareid's Law

The chief cause of problems is solutions.

Seymour's Principle of Investment

Never invest in anything that eats.

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 (O'Hanahan'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 Laws of Meetings

1. In any dealings with a collective body of people, the people will always be more tacky than originally expected.

2. The person with the least expertise has the most opinions.

3. Those most opposed to serving on committees are made chairmen.

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

1. Rechargeable batteries die at the most critical time of the most complex problem.

2. 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.

3. The final answer will exceed the magnitude or precision or both of the calculator.

4. There are not enough storage registers to solve the problem.

5. The user will forget mathematics in proportion to the complexity of the calculator.

6. Thermal paper will run out before the calculation is complete.

Shirley's Law

Most people deserve each other. Forgive and remember.

Short's Quotations

1. 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.

2. Half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at.

3. Malpractice makes malperfect.

4. Neurosis is a communicable disease.

5. The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky.

6. 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?

7. A little ignorance can go a long way.

8. Learn to be sincere. Even if you have to fake it.

9. There is no such thing as an absolute truth -- that is absolutely true.

10. Understanding the laws of nature does not mean we are free from obeying them.

11. Entropy has us outnumbered.

12. The human race never solves any of its problems -- it only outlives them.

13. Hell hath no fury like a pacifist.

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.

Sir Walter's Law

The tendency of smoke from a cigarette, barbecue, campfire, etc., To drift into a persons face is directly proportional with that persons sensitivity to smoke.

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."

Skydivers' Law of Hesitation

He who hesitates shall inherit the earth.

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

1. Never use one word when a dozen will suffice.

2. If it can be understood, it's not finished yet.

3. Never be the first to do anything.

Snafu Equations

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

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

3. 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.

4. Badness comes in waves.

Snafu Equation No. 6

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.

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.

Law of Space And Time

The universe is not only weirder than we suppose. It's weirder than we can suppose.

The 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 Nine Rules for the Project Manager

1. Strive to look tremendously important.

2. Attempt to be seen with important people. Speak with authority; however, only expound on the obvious and proven facts.

3. 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.

4. Listen intently while others are arguing the problem. Pounce on a trite statement and bury them with it.

5. 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.

6. Obtain a brilliant assignment, but keep out of sight and out of the limelight.

7. Walk at a fast pace when out of the office -- this keeps questions from subordinates and superiors at a minimum.

8. 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.

9. Give all orders verbally. Never write anything down that might go into "Pearl Harbor File."

Spark's Ten Rules for the Project Manager

1. Strive to look tremendously important.

2. Attempt to be seen with important people.

3. Speak with authority; however, only expound on the obvious and proven facts.

4. 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.

5. Listen intently while others are arguing the problem. Pounce on a trite statement and bury them with it.

6. 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.

7. Obtain a brilliant assignment, but keep out of sight and out of the limelight.

8. Walk at a fast pace when out of the office -- this keeps questions from subordinates and superiors at a minimum.

9. 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.

10. 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.

Sport Car Laws

1. If you drive an expensive sport car and park it in a corner of the parking lot far from the entrance, when you return the only other car in the parking lot will be parked next to yours and your car will have a new dent in the door.

2. The little old lady who just ran her shopping cart into the door of your new Porsche will invariably say "it's just a teeny dent," or "after all, it's only a car."

Law of Sports Contracts

The more money the free agent signs for, the less effective he is the following season.

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.

Stanley's Law of Taking Things Apart

When putting things back together again, there will always be at least one piece left over that will not fit anywhere.

Stanley's Laws of Fat

Fat expands to fill any apparel worn.

Law of Status

Keep Up With The Fletcher's. You'll Never Make Enough To Keep Up With The Jones's.

Steele's Plagiarism of Somebody's Philosophy

Everyone should believe in something -- I believe I'll have another drink.

Stein's Law of Cards

Never play Poker with a player named Doc or Ace.

Stein's Maxim

The fact that you do not know the answer does not mean that someone else does.

Steinbeck's Law

When you need towns, they are very far apart.

Stenton's Law (Conrad's Conundrum)

Technology don't transfer.

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.

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.

Stockbroker's Declaration

The market will rally from this or lower levels.

Stockmayer's Theorem

If it looks easy, it's tough. If it looks tough, it's damn near impossible.

Stone's Law

If you miss one issue of any magazine, it will be the issue which contained the article or story or installment you were most anxious to read.

Street's Laws of Mail Order

1. If you don't write to complain you'll never receive the order.

2. If you do write to complain, you'll receive the merchandise before your angry letter reaches the company.

3. The most important item in an order will be back ordered.

Sturgeon's Law

Ninety percent of EVERYTHING is crud.

Jones' browsing addendum to Sturgeon's Law

Of the ten percent, ninety percent are reprints.

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 Supermarkets

The item you wanted to price compare with other items is not priced.

Law of Superstition

It's bad luck to be superstititious.

Survival Formula for Public Office

1. Exploit the inevitable (which means, take credit for anything good which happens whether you had anything to do with it or not).

2. Don't disturb the perimeter (meaning don't stir up a mess unless you can be sure of the result).

3. Stay in with the Outs (the Ins will make so many mistakes, you can't afford to alienate the Outs).

4. Don't permit yourself to get between a dog and a lamppost.

Sutton's Law

Go where the money is.

Sweeney's Law

The length of a progress report is inversely proportional to the amount of progress.

Swipple's Rule of Order

He who shouts loudest has the floor.

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