Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Universal Laws

Today I thought I'd touch on something educational, serious and humorous . . . Universal Laws.

What are universal laws? They are laws, not necessarily, and probably not, passed, imposed and enforced by elected bodies of people who, supposedly, are wise and intelligent enough to create laws, ordinances, codes and such in the best interest of the people who elected them to their position to represent us. If you detected a bit of condescending arrogance in that description, you're most likely wiser and more intelligent then those I was describing.

Universal laws are laws or rules that impact and effect virtually everyone in a variety of facets of our daily lives. Not every universal law impacts us everyday, but you can count on them all year long. There are probably a lot more universal laws than I know about (or may even want to know about). I'm going to mention only a few of the most common ones. If you want to contribute others, please do so in the comment section of the blog. Inquiring minds want to know.

So, here we go . . .

Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law is probably one of the most well-known universal laws of all time. Simply stated and the way we're most familiar with the law,

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

The universality of this statement is that it applies to just about everything you can think of in every human endeavor.

The namesake of this law is Captain Edward Murphy, who was a development engineer for the Wright Field Aircraft Lab. He made the statement about a technician wiring a particular instrument. The original statement made by Murphy was, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he will.” And, of course, books have been written on this law, usually with a significant amount of humor involved. There are many variations on the theme, but you'll typically here the basic, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” by almost everyone at some time during their life.

Here are some of the many variations and extensions of this universal law:

  • Nothing is as easy as it looks.
  • If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.
  • If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
  • If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
  • Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
  • If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
  • Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
  • Mother nature is a bitch.
  • It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
  • Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
  • Every solution breeds new problems.

And, lest we forget, these are additional facets of this universal law:

  • Murphy's Law of Research: Enough research will tend to support your theory.
  • Murphy's Law of Copiers: The legibility of a copy is inversely proportional to its importance.
  • Murphy's Law of the Open Road: When there is a very long road upon which there is a one-way bridge placed at random, and there are only two cars on that road, it follows that: (1) the two cars will be going in opposite directions, and (2) they will always meet at the bridge.
  • Murphy's Law of Thermodynamics: Things get worse under pressure.
  • The Murphy Philosophy: Smile . . . tomorrow will be worse.
  • Quantization Revision of Murphy's Laws: Everything goes wrong all at once.
  • Murphy's Constant: Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value

Commentaries and Corollaries on Murphy's Law

Of course, no good law ever goes without some other wise asses making commentaries or corollaries that are equally as universal. So, this short discourse on Murphy's law wouldn't be complete without:

Corollaries to Murphy's Laws:

  • Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
  • It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
  • Law of the Perversity of Nature (Mrs. Murphy's Corollary): You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
  • Jenning's Corollary: The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
  • O'Toole's Commentary: Murphy was an optimist.
And - Hill's Commentaries on Murphy's Laws:

  • If we lose much by having things go wrong, take all possible care.
  • If we have nothing to lose by change, relax.
  • If we have everything to gain by change, relax.
  • If it doesn't matter, it does not matter.
NBC's Addendum: You never run out of things that can go wrong.

You should now be appropriately versed in most facets of Murphy's Law. Be aware and obey the law because it will apply whether you do or not.

Daly's Universal Laws

Daly's Laws, probably someone else's authorship, actually, and they probably qualify under Murphy's Law, were passed on to me as a very young man by my late friend, mentor and colleague, John Jay Daly of Washington, DC. John gained much wisdom growing up as a native Washingtonian, or as he put it, “in the shadow of the White House.” John learned from the best; presidents, representatives, senators, their staff people, appointed government officials, career bureaucrats and lobbyists. Now, that is an education. The stories John could tell kept us rolling in laughter.

Daly's Universal Law #1:

Whatever It is, It will always take longer than estimated, quoted, scheduled or planned.

I'm not even going to explain this. If this hasn't been your experience in life, well . . . you just haven't lived.

Daly's Universal Law #2:

Whatever It is, It will always cost more than estimated, quoted, budgeted or planned.

What I said about John's Law #1 equally applies to #2.

Remember, you have to extrapolate both of these. The time and cost will not necessarily be direct. They will quite often be the causation or result of actions leading up to or leading from whatever It is.

And, finally, for this educational exercise I give you . . .

Helvey's Universal Law

So, what could your humble writer have discovered that would be so universal it is included here?

Helvey's Only (currently) Universal Law:

Whatever It is, there is always someone who sells it cheaper or delivers it faster or both.

What does that mean? Actually, it has double meanings.

Meaning #1 is if you are buying something after you've made your purchase, you'll find someone else who sells it for less money. Quite often it will be substantially less money. Or, if you need something delivered in a very timely manner, after you've ordered the item and probably after you've received it, you'll find another supplier that could have delivered it even more timely.

Meaning #2 is when you are a provider of products or services to a customer or client, after you've spent hours, sometimes days, researching, pricing out each part, component and facet of the product or project, checked out the competition as thoroughly as you know how, after you've submitted your quotation, estimate or bid, someone will come along and undercut you in price and/or delivery time or both.


The more people involved the more chances for things to go wrong... KISS is always the best Idea. from Reader Michael Horn.
The Bottom Line To All Universal Laws

The bottom line is actually very simple – universal laws are simply part of life. Try as we may, they are ever present and will impact us at many times during our lifetime. I believe “Old Blue Eyes” (for those of you who know who that nickname refers to) had a popular song titled, “That's Life.”

I hope you got a little chuckle out of this article and it reminded you how vulnerable each one of us is to the various foibles of being human. If you have any additional universal laws you'd like to add to this post, send them in the comment section and I'll make them an addendum to the post noting you as the contributor. Share this with friends, family and colleagues. Have fun with it. Life is too short to get upset when our panties get bunched up.


Michael Horn said...

The more people involved the more chances for things to go wrong... KISS is always the best Idea.

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Thanks for this, Michael. I added to the list in the article as an addendum. I agree on KISS!!!


Anonymous said...

That ' amigo ' called Murphy was a very pessimistic person, wasn't he ??

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Hi Anonymous,

Well, in general, most of these "universal laws" are pessimistic. Murphy has been given the credit for all these negative things, but I'm sure Murphy didn't invent them all. I imagine he's had a lot of help expanding on the pessimism over the years.