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Collected Wisdom

This is probably a really good time to remind the reader that this is NOT a NASA site.  This is my personal collection of witicisms and aphorisms which in no way represents the position of NASA or the Federal Government…

Achievement Axiom If you do it right the first time, no one will appreciate the difficulty of the achievement.
Aigner’s Axiom No matter how well you perform your job, a superior will seek to modify the results.
Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design Much of my career success comes directly from adherence to an older, slightly shorter, yellowed copy of Akin’s laws. The list has since seen some updates: several of which are to me Dilbert-esque contrarianisms that tend to undermine the elegant truth of the “original” list. But in honor of the Author of the that list, I link to his current list “as is” for you to decide for yourself.
Aristotle’s Observation of Consideration It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Ballance’s Law of Relativity How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.
Baruch‘s Observation If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Basic Law of Befuddlement and Football The best defense is a good offense.
Berman’s Corollary to Robert’s Axiom One person’s error is another person’s data.
Blair‘s Observation The best laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal.
Bogovich’s Law He who hesitates is probably right.
Bralek’s Rule for Success Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you when things go wrong.
Brintnall’s Second Law If you are given two contradictory orders, obey them both.
Combat Law #1 If the enemy is within range, so are you.
Commoner’s Second Law of Ecology Nothing ever goes away.
Cooper’s Law If you do not understand a particular word in a piece of technical writing, ignore it. The piece will make perfect sense without it.
Deming’s Perogative Learning is not compulsory, and neither is survival.
Drazen’s Law of Restitution The time it takes to rectify a situation is inversely proportional to the time it took to do the damage.
Ducharm’s Axiom If you view a problem closely enough, you will recognize yourself as part of the problem.
Einstein’s Restatement of Occam’s Razor Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Fahnestock’s Rule for Failure If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that shows you tried.
Finagle’s Sixth Rule Do not believe in miracles — rely on them.
First Law of Socio-Genetics Celibacy is not hereditary.
First Rule of Business Having a detailed business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but not having one guarantees failure.
First Rule of Superior Inferiority Don’t let your superiors know you’re better than they are.
Feyman’s First Principle You must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.
Fowler’s Note The only imperfect thing in nature is the human race.
Freeman’s Rule of Civility Don’t be so concerned with your rights that you forget your manners.
Freeman’s Rule of Commitment If you don’t want to practice something, don’t try to learn it.
Freeman’s Warning Anything with teeth… will bite.
Fudd’s First Law of Opposition Push something hard enough and it will fall over.
Futility Factor No experiment is ever a complete failure– it can always serve as a negative example.
Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
Greer’s Third Law A computer program does what you tell it to do, not what you want it to do.
Grossman’s Misquote of H.L. Mencken All complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand, wrong answers.
Harrison’s Postulate For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Hemingway’s Social Onus An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk in order to spend time with his friends.
Hoff’s Law of Electronics The smoke makes it work; if you let the smoke out, it doesn’t work anymore.
Hofstader’s Law Everything takes longer that planned – even when Hofstader’s Law is considered in planning.
Holten’s Homily The only time to be positive is when you are positive you are wrong.
Horner’s Five Thumb Postulate Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.
Huxley’s Axiom of Persistent Reality Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Imbesi’s Law of the Conservation of Filth
(with Freeman’s Extension)
In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty  ( … but you can get everything dirty without getting anything clean.)
Jefferson‘s Strategy Sometimes if you want to win the war — you have to burn the village.
Kovac’s Conundrum When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.
Launegayer’s Observation Asking dumb questions is easier than correcting dumb mistakes.
Law of Probable Dispersal Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
Levy’s Eighth Law No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.
Lieberman’s Law Everybody lies, but it doesn’t matter since nobody listens.
Lord Balfour’s Contention Nothing matters very much, and very few things matter at all.
Mae West’s Observation To err is human, but it feels divine.
McDonald’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law In any given set of circumstances, the proper course of action is determined by subsequent events.
McKernan’s Maxim Those who are unable to learn from past meetings are condemned to repeat them.
Miller’s Law of Insurance Insurance covers everything except what happens.
Miller’s Maxim In a surplus labor economy, the squeaking wheel does not get the grease; it gets replaced.
Murphy’s Clarification of Thomas Wolfe’s Law You can go home again -you just can’t stay there.
Murphy’s Law of Thermodynamics Things get worse under pressure.
Murphy’s Uncertainty Principle You can know something has gone wrong only when you have made an odd number of mistakes.
Murray‘s Laws 1. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.
2. Never ask a salesperson if it’s a good price.
Newton‘s Little Known Seventh Law A bird in the hand is safer than one overhead.
Paine’s Reproach (paraphrased) Arguing with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.
Perrussel’s Law There is no job so simple that it cannot be done wrong.
Perspective Axiom Crying over spilt milk may be a sign of a deeper, more serious psychological problem.
Piatz’s Law of Culinary Appreciation There is no seasoning like adversity.
Pineapple Principle The best parts of anything are always impossible to remove from the worst parts.
Pitfalls of Genius No boss will keep an employee who is right all the time.
Programming (Definition of) An activity similar to banging your head against the wall, but with fewer opportunities for reward.
Randi’s Axiom No amount of belief makes something a fact.
Roger’s Rule of Progress Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Rockefeller’s Principle Never do anything you wouldn’t be caught dead doing.
Rucket’s Law There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion.
Rule of Political Promises Truth varies.
Sandwich Analogy Life is like a shit sandwich – the more bread you got, the less shit you gotta eat.
Sattinger’s Law It works better if you plug it in.
Schopenhauer’s Law of Entropy If you put a spoonful of wine in a barrel of sewage, you get sewage.  If you put a spoonful of sewage of sewage in a barrel full of wine, you get sewage.
Second Rule of Environmental Protection The most efficient way to dispose of toxic waste is to reclassify the waste as non-toxic.
Sevareid’s Law The chief cause of problems is solutions.
Seymour‘s Investment Principle Never invest in anything that eats.
Shaw’s Law of Progress The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
Souder’s Law Repetition does not establish validity.
Spencer’s Law of Unfortunate Choices When you find yourself drowning — pick the lightest brick.
Steinbach’s Guideline for Systems Programming Never test an error condition you don’t know how to handle.
Stewart’s Law of Retroaction It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Stitzer’s Vacation Principle When packing for a vacation, take half as much clothing and twice as much money.
Stockmayer’s Theorem If it looks easy, it’s tough.  If it looks tough, it’s damn well impossible.
Strano’s Law When all else fails, try the boss’ suggestion.
Sweeney’s Law The length of a progress report is inversely proportional to the amount of progress.
Taylor‘s Law of Tailoring No matter how many alterations, cheap pants never fit.
Testicular Imperative Either you have the world by them — or it has you.
Trail Advice #1 Always drink upstream from the herd.
Troubleshooter’s Survival Tip #7 Nothing is more deadly than experimental equipment.
Troubleshooter’s Survival Tip #8 Traitors have nothing to lose by committing treason.
Troubleshooter’s Survival Tip #9 De-briefings always go smoothly when you are the only surviving attendee.
Troubleshooter’s Survival Tip #10 When disaster looms, keep stalling; only heros are too stupid to wait patiently for miracles.
Truman’s Rule of Government Efficiency When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.
Westheimer’s Discovery A couple of months in the laboratory can save a couple of hours in the library.
W.C. Field’s Rule of Beverage Selection Don’t drink water — fish fuck in it.
Who’s Societal Observation Anybody remotely interesting is mad, in some way or another.
Woody’s Epicurean Postulate If smells good, eat it.
Woody’s Law of Acquisition (and Comprehesion) If you stare long enough – you just might get it.
Wright’s Perambulatory Perspective Everywhere is “walking distance” if you have the time.
Zappa’s Law There are two things on earth that are universal, hydrogen and stupidity.


1. wonker - March 19, 2009

Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

2. keimalia - April 1, 2009

loved to read these! My sayings: I’m too young to act my age, and I try not to look it. When it rains it pours and my life is usually a hurricane. Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms the child through the storm.

3. freemytongue - December 3, 2015

I love this post…

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