Friday, January 22, 2010

Finagle's Laws

as formulated by Aron K Insinga

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 matter 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 totalled 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 totalled 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 imminent, 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 asked the question.

· Corollary one — if you have to ask the question. You won't understand the answer.

· Corollary two — if you understand the answer, you asked the wrong 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 saying, you have probably grossly misinterpreted him.

· Fourth law — in any argument, the heat of the argument is inversely 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 definitely rain, and the rate of downpour will be inversely 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 proportional 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 when the sun is shining and there are no clouds in the sky, when you ride your bicycle to your next class it will be pouring down.

· Corollary one — take a raincoat 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 embarrassing problem called bike-have-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 mechanic.

· 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-existent.

· Fourth law — the most difficult or nearly impossible programming problems appear obvious or extremely simple to anyone with little or no knowledge of programming.

· Corollary one — those problems most easily solved by a programmer, appear to be overwhelmingly complicated and marvellous to the layperson.

· Fifth law — computers are never more intelligent than their programmers.

· Corollary one — most computers are incredibly stupid.

· Lemma one — unfortunately abuse regarding 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.

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.
  4. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
  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 Nagel who moved to Ireland where his associates misunderstood the pronunciation of his name.

An example of the usage of the Von Nagel (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.

(Hat-tip to Makarios)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blogging on the Ride

I sponsored Jennifer Luu on the 2010 Soulforce Equality Ride, and have just heard that she's going to be blogging about the 2010 Ride at Advance Directive. Here's a sample:
If, as a member of an oppressed group, I take a stand against that oppression and decide that I will work against it, it doesn't make any sense to work only for my own personal interests. It doesn't make any sense for me to only fight for marriage equality when there are other queer people losing their jobs for being queer or killing themselves for being queer because THAT'S how much they hate themselves. (If you are unfamiliar with my usage of the word "queer," it goes like this: "queer" used to be a derogatory term aimed at LGBTQ people. It has since been liberatingly reclaimed by LGBTQ people to generally refer to that which is not heteronormative. The non-heteronormative part is why I like to use it-- it's shorter than LGBTQ and also rhymes with "cheer.") The people within my oppressed group that are more oppressed than I are more oppressed for reasons that inevitably have to do with issues of money/class and race. That is how I understand intersectionality. It's all connected. And it doesn't make any damn sense to forget about other oppressed peoples while I work my own way out of oppression because that doesn't do anything to end oppression-- it only ends MY oppression. It only moves oppression around-- shifts it from one group to another. Meanwhile, the dominant group stays dominant while the system they sit atop says, "suckeeeers!!!" And by forgetting and/or not recognizing the other oppressed, I become the oppressor. I'm not down with this. This is what "no one is free when others are oppressed" means to me. No one is better than anyone else.
Good stuff.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Quote of the Day

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
Susan B. Anthony

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Moons of Jupiter

January 7, 1610

Wow. Four hundred years ago today, Galileo got out his telescope and observed the moons of Jupiter. There are now known to be 63 of them. Imagine how it must have been, discovering these new things which would undermine the commonly accepted model of the solar system. Exciting but scary.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Stop whining and get on with it

Cat at Quaker Pagan Reflections has posted an absolutely brilliant rant (well, she says it's a rant, but it's actually very mild-mannered) asking Pagans who have left Christianity behind to stop moaning about it and start exploring their own spirituality, i.e. instead of talking about why they don't like Jesus, they should start talking about why they do like Odin, or Freyja, or Isis, or the Tao. If more than 50% of your blogposts involve moaning about Christianity or Jesus, then please read it.

I couldn't agree more. I shudder at the number of times I have had to sit through interminable rants about how dreadful Christianity is at pub moots, and the number of blogposts I have had to sift through that were whining about how all the ills of the world can be laid at Christianity's door, and how they stole the Pagan festivals, yada, yada, yada.

Yes, Christians can be bigoted bastards. And yes, the Inquisition was bad. But on the plus side of the balance sheet, there's charity and compassion (not uniquely the preserve of Christians, but they do walk their talk in that respect).

It could be because many Pagans have come from a fundamentalist Christian background. I sympathise, because I have been there. But moaning about it incessantly is not the answer. Go and get some really good therapy, deal with it, and move on.

But it's not just Christianity and Jesus that get the blame for all the ills of the world. Oh no - in fact it's monotheism that is the bad guy, according to some. Last year, during Pagan Values Month, there were a number of posts going on about how polytheism was inherently more tolerant than monotheism. I disagree - I have met tolerant monotheists and intolerant polytheists. It's taking things literally that is the source of narrow-mindedness, and fear is the source of bigotry.

Trinitarian theology is mostly exclusivist, because it maintains that Jesus is the only gateway to the Divine Source; but all other forms of monotheism are conducive to the view that polytheism and monotheism are different perspectives on the same reality. But even some Trinitarians see their theology as a metaphor for other theologies.

So, unless you have made some effort to study other religions' theologies in some depth, don't assume that the narrow-minded fundamentalist mindset you were brought up in is typical of the whole of Christian thought. Some of the best minds in Europe were devoted to theological musing for centuries, so it's actually quite subtle.

Unless you are aware that there are several different models of the atonement, plus Christus Victor theology, plus the Arian heresy, and you know what theosis, kenosis, coinherence and perichoresis are, when original sin was invented and by whom, and what the causes and implications of the Filioque controversy were - then don't think you are qualified to hold forth on what's wrong with Christian theology.