Old Humor: Finagle's Laws

FINAGLE'S LAWS
----------------

LAW OF EXPERIMENT
-----------------

FIRST LAW---IF ANYTHING CAN GO WRONG WITH AN EXPERIMENT OR TEST,
IT WILL.
SECOND LAW--EVERYTHING GOES WRONG AT ONCE.
THIRD LAW---EXPERIMENTS MUST BE REPRODUCIBLE. THEY SHOULD ALL FAIL
IN THE SAME WAY.
FOURTH LAW--BUILD NO MECHANISM SIMPLY IF A WAY CAN BE FOUND TO MAKE IT
COMPLEX AND WONDERFUL.
FIFTH LAW---NO HATTER HOW AN EXPERIMENT OR TEST PROCEEDS, SOMEONE WILL
BELIEVE IT HAPPENED ACCORDING TO HIS PET THEORY.
COROLLARY ONE--NO MATTER WHAT THE RESULT IS, SOMEONE WILL
MISINTERPRET IT.
COROLLARY TWO--NO MATTER WHAT RESULTS ARE ANTICIPATED, SOMEONE WILL BE
WILLING TO FAKE THEM.

LAW OF MATHEMATICS
------------------

FIRST LAW---IN ANY COLLECTION OF DATA, THE FIGURES THAT ARE OBVIOUSLY
CORRECT BEYOND ALL NEED OF CHECKING CONTAIN THE ERRORS.
COROLLARY ONE--NO ONE WHOM YOU ASK FOR HELP WILL SEE THE ERRORS.
COROLLARY TWO--EVERYONE WHO STOPS BY WITH UNSOUGHT ADVICE WILL SEE IT
IMMEDIATELY.
SECOND LAW--IF, IN ANY PROBLEM, YOU FIND YOURSELF DOING A TRANSFINITE
AMOUNT OF WORK, THE ANSWER CAN BE OBTAINED BY INSPECTION.
COROLLARY ONE--IF INSPECTION FAILS TO YIELD RESULTS, JUDICIOUS
APPLICATION OF ONE OF THE METHODS OUTLINED IN THE TEXT
FOLLOWING MAY BE IN ORDER.
(SEE FINAGLE'S CONSTANT)

LAW OF SYSTEMS
--------------

WHEN A SYSTEM BECOMES COMPLETELY DEFINED AND ALL AVENUES OF INQUIRY AND
EXPANSION ARE EXPLORED, AN UNINFORMED, INDEPENDENT, AMATEUR EXPERIMENTER
WILL DISCOVER SOMETHING WHICH EITHER ABOLISHES THE SYSTEM OR EXPANDS
IT BEYOND RECOGNITION.

LAW OF THE INCH
---------------

IN DESIGNING ANY TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION, NO OVERALL DIMENSION CAN BE
TOTALED CORRECTLY AFTER 4:30 P.M. ON FRIDAY.
COROLLARY ONE--UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS. IF ANY MINOR DIMENSIONS ARE
GIVEN TO 1/16 OF AN INCH, -THEY CANNOT BE TOTALED AT ALL.
COROLLARY TWO--THE CORRECT TOTAL WILL BECOME SELF-EVIDENT AT 8:15 A.M.
ON MONDAY.

LAWS OF REVISION
----------------

FIRST LAW---INFORMATION NECESSITATING A CHANGE IN DESIGN WILL BE
CONVEYED TO THE DESIGNER AFTER, AND ONLY AFTER, THE
PLANS ARE COMPLETE.
(OFTEN REFERRED TO AS THE NOW-THEY-TELL-US LAW)
COROLLARY ONE--IN SIMPLE CASES, PRESENTING ONE OBVIOUS RIGHT WAY
VERSUS ONE OBVIOUS WRONG WAY, IT IS OFTEN EASIER TO
CHOOSE THE WRONG WAY SO AS TO EXPEDITE SUBSEQUENT
REVISIONS.
SECOND LAW--THE MORE INNOCUOUS THE MODIFICATION APPEARS TO BE, THE
FURTHER ITS INFLUENCE WILL EXTEND AND THE MORE THE PLANS
WILL HAVE TO BE REDRAWN.
THIRD LAW---IF, WHEN COMPLETION OF THE DESIGN IS IMMENENT, FIELD
DIMENSIONS ARE SUPPLIED AS THEY ARE, INSTEAD OF AS THEY
WERE MEANT TO BE, IT IS ALWAYS SIMPLER TO START OVER.
FOURTH LAW--IT IS USUALLY IMPRACTICAL TO WORRY BEFOREHAND ABOUT
INTERFERENCE. IF YOU HAVE NONE, SOMEONE WILL SUPPLY SOME
FOR YOU. (OR FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD ABOVE)

LAW OF UNDERSTANDING
--------------------

FIRST LAW---IF YOU ARE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU ARE PART OF THE
PROBLEM.
SECOND LAW--IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THE ANSWER, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE
COROLLARY ONE--IF YOU HAVE TO ASK THE QUESTION. YOU WON'T UNDERSTAND
QUESTION.
THIRD LAW---IF YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU YOURSELF ARE SAYING, INVARIABLY
NO ONE ELSE WILL.
COROLLARY ONE--IF YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT SOMEONE ELSE IS SAVING. YOU
PROBABLY HAVE GROSSLY MISINTERPRETED HIM.
FOURTH LAW--IN ANY ARGUMENT, THE HEAT OF THE ARGUMENT IS INVERSLY
PROPORTIONAL TO THE AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE PRESENT.

LAW OF WEATHER FORECASTING
--------------------------

FIRST LAW---WHENEVER THERE IS LESS THAN A 60 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN, IT
WILL MOST DEFINATELY RAIN, AND THE RATE OF DOWNPOUR WILL BE
INVERSLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE SQUARE OF THE PERCENT CHANCE OF
RAIN.
SECOND LAW--WHENEVER THERE IS GREATER THAN 44.8 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN,
IT WILL RAIN AND THE RATE OF DOWNPOUR WILL BE DIRECTLY PRO-
PORTIONAL TO THE PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN.
COROLLARY ONE--IT WILL ALWAYS RAIN IN DELAWARE.

LAW OF BICYCLING
----------------

FIRST LAW---IF YOU LEAVE YOUR BICYCLE OUTSIDE OVER NIGHT, IT WILL RAIN.
SECOND LAW--IF YOU RIDE YOUR BICYCLE TO CLASS WHIM THE SUN IS SHINING
AND THERE ARE NO CLOUDS IN THE SKY, WHEN YOU RIDE YOUR
BICYCLE TO YOUR NEXT CLASS IT WILL BE DDWNPOURING.
COROLLARY ONE--TAKE A RAIN COAT WHEN YOU RIDE YOUR BICYCLE. THIS WILL
MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT BUT IT WILL ALSO HELP TO KEEP
THE RAIN AWAY. IN THE EVENT IT DOES RAIN, YOU CAN WEAR
YOUR RAINCOAT AND LAUGH AT EVERYONE ELSE WHO IS GETTING
WET. HOWEVER, IT IS UNWISE TO LET THEM HEAR YOU BECAUSE
THEY WILL USUALLY DE-BIKE YOU
THIRD LAW---WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR BICYCLE ON A TRIP OR AWAY TO SCHOOL, THE
FIRST WEEK AWAY FROM HOME YOU WILL EXPERIENCE AN EMBARRASS-
ING PROBLEM CALLED BIKE-HAV-UM-FLAT
COROLLARY ONE--IF YOU DIDN'T TAKE A BICYCLE PUMP, AND IF YOU DIDN'T TAKE
A TIRE REPAIR KIT, YOU WILL HAVE A FLAT BY THE FIRST DAY.
COROLLARY TWO--IF YOU DIDN'T TAKE ONE OF THE ABOVE ITEMS MENTIONED BUT
TOOK THE OTHER ONE, THEN YOU WON'T HAVE A FLAT UNTIL THE
THIRD DAY.

**EDITOR'S NOTE--A READING OF THE LAWS OF FINAGLE AS STATED ABOVE WILL
SHOW THAT THE COMPILATION AT THIS DATE IS FAR FROM COMPLETE.  FURTHER
RESEARCH IS NEEDED, ESPECIALLY IN THE LAW OF SYSTEMS. OTHER WORK NEEDS
TO BE DONE TO CORRELATE FINAGLE'S LAWS WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSAL
PERVERSITY OF MATTER. VERY LITTLE IS ACTUALLY KNOWN IN THIS LATTER
FIELD, SO IN AN ATTEMPT TO AT LEAST BEGIN SYSTEMIZATION THE KNOWN LAWS
WILL BE STATED.

LAWS OF THE UNIVERSAL PERVERSITY OF MATTER
------------------------------------------

FIRST LAW---ANY MECHANICAL OR ELECTRICAL DEVICE IS MOST LIKELY TO FAIL
THE DAY AFTER THE MANUFACTURER'S GUARANTEE HAS EXPIRED.
SECOND LAW--ANY MECHANICAL OR ELECTRICAL DEVICE IS MOST LIKELY TO
MALFUNCTION SHORT OF BREAKDOWN UNTIL THE PRESENCE
OF ANY TRAINED SERVICEMAN.
THIRD LAW---MATTER WILL BE DAMAGED IN DIRECT PROPORTION TO ITS VALUE.
COROLLARY ONE--IF A MECHANISM IS ACCIDENTALLY DROPPED, IT WILL FALL IN
SUCH A WAY THAT MAXIMUM DAMAGE WILL OCCUR.
COROLLARY TWO--THINGS FALL AT RIGHT ANGLES.

LAWS OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING
----------------------------

FIRST LAW---THE COMPUTER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
LEMMA ONE---PROGRAMMERS ARE OCCASIONALLY RIGHT.
SECOND LAW--THE AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED TO DEBUG A PROGRAM IS INVERSELY
PROPORTIONAL TO THE TIME ALLOTTED FOR DEBUGGING.
COROLLARY ONE--PROGRAMS NEVER WORK RIGHT THE FIRST TIME UNLESS THERE
IS VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED TIME LEFT TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT.
THIRD LAW---ANY PROGRAMMER CAN FIND 90 PERCENT OF HIS BUGS SIMPLY BY
EXPLAINING HIS PROGRAM TO ANY UNINTERESTED OBSERVER.
COROLLARY ONE--THE UNINTERESTED OBSERVER MAY BE SLEEPING, DEAD,
NON-HUMAN, OR IN EXTREME CASES, NON-EXISTANT.
FOURTH LAW--THE MOST DIFFICULT OR NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE PROGRAMMING PROBLEMS
APPEAR OBVIOUS OR EXTREMELY SIMPLE TO ANYONE WITH LITTLE
OR NO KNOWLEDGE OF PROGRAMMING.
COROLARY ONE--THOSE PROBLEMS MOST EASILY SOLVED BY A PROGRAMMER,
APPEAR TO BE OVERWHELMINGLY COMPLICATED AND MARVELOUS TO
THE LAYMAN.
FIFTH LAW--COMPUTERS ARE NEVER MORE INTELLIGENT THAN THEIR PROGRAMMERS.
COROLLARY ONE--MOST COMPUTERS ARE INCREDIBLY STUPID.
LEMMA ONE---UNFORTUNATELY ABUSE REGUARDING THE INTELLIGENCE LEVEL OF A
COMPUTER IS ALMOST NEVER ASSOCIATED WITH THE PARTY MOST
DESERVING OF THE COMPLAINTS, THE COMPUTER PROGRAMMER.
SIXTH LAW---THE RAREST BUGS IN ANY OPERATING SYSTEM OR MAJOR PROGRAMMING
EFFORT WILL ALWAYS SHOW UP DURING A DEMONSTRATION OF ITS
USE TO PROSPECTIVE USERS OR CUSTOMERS.
COROLLARY ONE--THESE BUGS USUALLY CANNOT BE REPRODUCED AND THEREFORE
CANNOT BE LOCATED.
LEMMA ONE---CUSTOMERS WILL NEVER PURCHASE PROGRAMS WHICH APPEAR TO BE
RIDDLED WITH BUGS AS VERIFIED BY DEMONSTRATIONS.
PARADOX-----MOST PROGRAMS ARE UNFIT FOR SALE.

DEFINITIONS OF ELECTRONIC DATA PROCESSING (EDP) TERMS:
-----------------------------------------------------

MICROPROGRAMMING - PROGRAMMING DONE ON EXTREMELY SMALL COMPUTERS.
TERMINAL - THE EFFECTS OF INFINITE RECURSION ON A FINITE MACHINE.
CORE MEMORY - PERISHABLE STORAGE MEDIUM MADE FROM APPLE SAUCE BY
PRODUCTS.
DATA BUS - ANOTHER NAME FOR A FUDGE-FACTOR BOOKMOBILE.
MAGNETIC TAPE - MYLAR STRIPS USEFUL FOR BONDING FERROUS METALS.
MODEM - COMPLEMENT OF MODE W.
PRINTER - PERSON HIRED TO TRANSFER WORTHLESS DOCUMENTATION ONTO
SEMI-PRECIOUS PAPER, MARKEDLY REDUCING THE PAPERS VALUE BELOW
THAT OF SCRATCH PAPER.
CARD READER - MIDDLE-AGED GYPSY USUALLY FOUND JUST ACROSS STATE LINES.
CARD PUNCH - BLAND LIQUID REFRESHMENT OFTEN SERVED AFTER FLOODS IN
LARGE EDP CENTERS.
DISK PACK - TYPE OF MUSTARD PLASTER HELPFUL IN CASES OF BACK INJURY
RESULTING FROM FALLING OVER BACKWARD IN CHAIR AFTER
REALIZING THAT YOU HAVE JUST ACCIDENTIALLY ERASED 6 MONTHS
PLACE A LONG DISTANCE COLLECT CALL TO A DIAL-UP COMPUTER.
PROGRAM -  A SUMMARY OF THE PLAYERS AND SITUATIONS WHICH WILL MAKE UP
THE DAY'S COMEDY OF ERRORS AT AN EDP CENTER.
DATA COMMUNICATIONS - GOSSIP.
CALL EXIT - SLOGAN OF A DIAL-UP COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP ENCOURAGING
SUICIDES.
GRAPHICS -  COMPUTER PORNOGRAPHY.
CRASH - THE RESULTANT SOUND MADE WHEN A FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR TERMINAL
IS DROPPED BY A BUTTER-FINGERED USER.
REMOTE JOB ENTRY - BEING FORCED TO ACCEPT NEW EMPLOYMENT AT ANOTHER
EDP CENTER SOME DISTANCE AWAY.
ENGINEER - PERSON USUALLY QUALIFIED ONLY TO OPERATE SMALL SCALE,
MODEL TRAINS.
DIAL-UP PORT - SPECIAL SERVICE PROVIDED FOR FRUSTRATED EDP USERS BY SOME
LIQUOR STORES SPECIALIZING IN FORTIFIED WINES.

TO ASSIST IN THE RESEARCH SUGGESTED, THE FOLLOWING RULES HAVE BEEN
FORMULATED FOR THE USE OF THOSE NEW TO THIS FIELD.

RULES OF EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE
-------------------------------

1. A RECORD OF DATA IS USEFUL. IT INDICATES THAT YOU HAVE BEEN BUSY.
2. TO STUDY A SUBJECT, FIRST UNDERSTAND IT THOROUGHLY.
3. IN CASE OF DOUBT, MAKE IT SOUND CONVINCING.
5. DO NOT BELIEVE IN LUCK, RELY ON IT.
6. ALWAYS LEAVE ROOM WHEN WRITING A REPORT TO ADD AN EXPLANATION IF IT
DOESN'T WORK OUT. (THE RULE OF THE-WAY-OUT)

ONE OF THE MORE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE FIELD OF INTERPRETATION OF
EXPERIMENTAL DATA, WHICH EXPANDS THE USEFULNESS OF THE WELL KNOWN
FINAGLE CONSTANT AND THE SUBTLE BOUGERRE FACTOR IS THE DIDDLE
COEFFICIENT.  (THESE ITEMS ARE LARGELY GROUPED, IN MATHEMATICS, UNDER
CONSTANT VARIABLES OR, AS SOME WORKERS PREFER, VARIABLE CONSTANTS)
THE DERIVATION OF THESE USEFUL CONCEPTS IS AS FOLLOWS:

1. FINAGLE'S CONSTANT IS USED AS A MULTIPLIER OF THE ZERO ORDER TERM.
2. THE MAIN BODY OF THESE LAWS WAS FORMULATED DURING THE TIME FINAGLE
WAS TRYING TO PROVE HIS FUNDAMENTAL DISCOVERY THAT IF A STRING HAS
ONE END, IT HAS ANOTHER.
3. FINAGLE'S CONSTANT MAY BE CHARACTERIZED AS CHANGING THE UNIVERSE TO
FIT THE EQUATION.
4. THE BOUGERRE FACTOR IS CHARACTERIZED AS CHANGING THE EQUATION TO FIT
THE UNIVERSE.  NAMED AFTER BOUGERRE, A FRENCH PROFESSOR OF
MATHEMATICS, THE MORE COMMON DESIGNATION, DUE TO LANGUAGE
DIFFICULTY, IS "BUGGERS".
5. THE DIDDLE COEFFICIENT IS CHARACTERIZED AS CHANGING THINGS SO THAT
THE EQUATION AND THE UNIVERSE APPEAR TO FIT WITHOUT REQUIRING ANY
CHANGE IN EITHER.
6. DR. FINAGLE WAS, ACTUALLY, A GERMAN BY THE NAME OF VON NAGLE WHO
MOVED TO IRELAND WHERE HIS ASSOCIATES MISUNDERSTOOD THE PRONOUN-
CIATION OF HIS NAME.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE USAGE OF THE VON NAGLE (FINAGLE) FACTOR IS THE
INTRODUCTION OF THE PLANET URANUS.  SINCE NEWTONIAN LAWS DID NOT
COINCIDE WITH THE OBSERVED UNIVERSE, THE PLANET WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE
UNIVERSE TO MAKE THE UNIVERSE FIT THE EQUATIONS. MUCH LATER THE PLANET
WAS OBSERVED.