Monday, January 29, 2007

List of adages named after people (a Wikipedia moment)

Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. Formulated by Isaac Asimov.
First law: A robot may not, through its actions or inactions, allow a human to come to harm.
Second law: A robot must obey any order given to it, unless in contradiction of the First Law.
Third law: A robot must protect its own existence, unless in contradiction of the First or Second Law.

Barnum's Law - You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Named for P. T. Barnum, close to H. L. Mencken quotation.

Benford's law - In any collection of statistics, a given statistic has roughly a thirty percent chance of starting with the digit one.

Benford's law of controversy - Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

Brooks's Law - Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. Named after Fred Brooks - author of the well known tome on project management, The Mythical Man-Month.

Clarke's Three Laws. Formulated by Arthur C. Clarke.
First law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Second law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little ways past them into the impossible.
Third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Conway's Law - If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler. Alternatively - Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it. Coined by programmer Melvin Conway.

Dilbert Principle - The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management. Coined by Scott Adams, author of the comic strip Dilbert.

Duverger's law - Winner-take-all electoral systems tend to create a two party system, while proportional representation tends to create a multiple party system. Named after Maurice Duverger.

Finagle's Law - Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment. A version of Murphy's law. Finagle was not a real individual.

Fulmer's law - Any male who makes it to the age of eighteen without being arrested or dead is just lucky. Coined as an observation of young male behavior, including, in hindsight, his own.
Godwin's Law - As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. Coined by Mike Godwin in 1990.

Gresham's Law - Bad money drives good money out of circulation. Coined in 1858 by British economist Henry Dunning Macleod, and named for Sir Thomas Gresham (1519 - 1579). Earlier stated by others, including Nicolaus Copernicus.

Haeckel's Dictum - Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

Hanlon's Razor - A corollary of Finagle's law, normally taking the form Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. Named after Robert J. Hanlon, although there is some debate.

Harshaw's Law - "Daughters can use up ten percent more than a man can make in any normal occupation, regardless of the amount." Coined by Jubal Harshaw in Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.

Hofstadter's Law - It [a task] always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law. Named after Douglas Hofstadter.

Hotelling's law - Under some conditions, it is rational for competitors to make their products as nearly identical as possible. Named after Harold Hotelling.

Hutber's law - Improvement means deterioration. Coined by financial journalist Patrick Hutber.
Kerckhoffs' principle - In cryptography, a system should be secure even if everything about the system, except for a small piece of information--the key--is public knowledge. Stated by Auguste Kerckhoffs in the 19th century.

Keynes's Law - Demand creates its own supply. Attributed to economist John Maynard Keynes, and contrasted to Say's law.

Kołakowski's Law (otherwise, the "Law of the Infinite Cornucopia"), - For any given doctrine that one wants to believe, there is never a shortage of arguments by which to support it. Put forth by Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski

Linus's Law - Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. Named for Linus Torvalds, initiator of the kernel of the GNU/Linux operating system.

Littlewood's Law - Individuals can expect miracles to happen to them at the rate of about one per month. Coined by Professor John Edensor Littlewood.

Locard's exchange principle - with contact between two items, there will be an exchange, premise of forensics named after Edmond Locard

Metcalfe's law - In network theory, the value of a system grows as approximately the square of the number of users of the system. Framed by Robert Metcalfe.

Moore's Law - The complexity of an integrated circuit will double in about 24 months. Stated in 1965, though not as a law, by Gordon E. Moore, later a co-founder of Intel. A figure of 18 months is often quoted.

Morton's Fork - A person who lives in luxury and has clearly spent a lot of money must obviously have sufficient income to pay as tax. Alternatively, a person who lives frugally and shows no sign of being wealthy must have substantial savings and can therefore afford to pay it as tax. Named after John Morton, tax collector for King Henry VII of England.

Murphy's Law - If anything can go wrong, it will. Alternately, If it can happen, it will happen. Ascribed to Major Edward A. Murphy, Jr. Many corollaries have been stated.
Murphy's law (alternate) - If there are two ways to do something, and one of them will result in a disaster, somebody will choose that way. Also ascribed to Major Edward A. Murphy, Jr.

Ockham's Razor - Explanations should never multiply assumptions without necessity. When two explanations are offered for a phenomenon, the simplest full explanation is preferable. Named after William of Ockham. Also known as Occam's Razor: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

Orgel's rules. Formulated by evolutionary biologist Leslie Orgel.
First rule: Whenever a spontaneous process is too slow or too inefficient a protein will evolve to speed it up or make it more efficient.
Second rule: Evolution is cleverer than you are.

Pareto Principle - For many phenomena, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, but framed by management thinker Joseph M. Juran.

Parkinson's Law - Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Coined by C. Northcote Parkinson. Many corollaries have been stated. One is the Technician's Corollary - No matter how big the data storage medium, it will soon be filled.
While the 'law' is generally intended humorously, there have been some attempts to state it formally, as in the following version seen in population ecology: "In the absence of other restraining factors, uptake of a given non-limiting resource will increase until it becomes limiting."

Peter Principle - In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. Coined by Laurence J. Peter.

Reed's law - The utility of large networks, particularly social networks, scales exponentially with the size of the network. Named after David P. Reed.

Reilly's law - People generally patronize the largest mall in the area.

Rock's law - The cost of a semiconductor chip fabrication plant doubles every four years. Named after Arthur Rock.

Say's Law - Demand cannot exist without supply. Often stated as Supply creates its own demand. Attributed to economist Jean-Baptiste Say and contrasted to Keynes's Law.

Stigler's law of eponymy - No scientific discovery, not even Stigler's law, is named after its original discoverer.

Sturgeon's Law - Nothing is always absolutely so. Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon.

Sturgeon's Revelation - Ninety percent of everything is crud. Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon. Often misquoted as: Ninety percent of everything is crap.

Wirth's law - Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.

Zawinski's law of software envelopment - Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.

Zipf's law - For many different kinds of things, their frequency is observed to be approximately inversely proportional to their rank order.. Named after George Kingsley Zipf.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I wish Kurt Vonnegut had a blog

Specifically, one that he would update daily.

I just got back from a business trip to New Haven, Connecticut. After the days meetings, my colleague and I walked around Yale. Yeah, the word colleague is a little ostentatious. That line should say my co-worker and I trespassed around Yale.

It's a nice campus. My co-worker was pretty impressed, and expressed how much more she liked it than the University campus that she studied at.

While Yale has an impressive ambiance, I still couldn't say I preferred it to my own, York University. It is , after all, just another school. I find it funny that George W. Bush graduated from Yale. I wonder if anyone in the alumni association there is embarrassed.

We walked around for a while, and at a bookstore I picked up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's "A Man Without a Country." It was an enjoyable, quick read on the flight home, and reminded me of "Breakfast of Champions," which I read for a class when I attended York.

Before leaving, we stopped by a store on the corner of Chapel and College streets, and I picked up a Yale sweatshirt. I'll probably tell people that I went to Yale, and when they ask what I took, I'll say I didn't get a chance to steal anything because I was only there for an hour.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Anj, Saffy and I just got back from spending NYE at friends family cottage in Muskoka. It was very rustic, and very nice. We drove up yesterday morning, immediately after dropping off my last minute submission to this years Sunday Star Short Story Contest (and now I can forget about that).

See that post below 'Name Game'... the funny thing about that is that while there are 5 people with my name in the United States, I know of one in Canada. He worked at a computer reseller in British Columbia a few years back, around the same time that I was working in computer sales in the GTA. I learned about him when I accidentally accessed his HP Partner Info account when I forgot the password to mine. I found that kinda trippy, like having a doppleganger out there somewhere.

New Years resolutions:

1. Procrastinate less
2. Excercise more