Laws & Proverbs for Today

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Updating those old proverbs for the modern world, and excerpt from Random Musings.

Over the years I’ve noticed our common stock of proverbs has grown sadly out-of-date thanks to the changes in society and morality. For example, ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’ In these days of throwaway clothes, who can remember what a stitch is?

Even some relatively modern laws are already useless without further clarification so, while I can’t update all laws and proverbs in one short article, here are my suggestions for making some of them modern -- and also curing the sunny optimism too many of them embodied.

Work Laws:

Murphy’s Law says ‘if something can go wrong, it will.’ James’s Corollary says ‘and even if something can’t go wrong, it will.’

Parkinson’s Law says work expands to fill the time available. James’s Corollary adds, ‘and then they will ask for an extension and expand again.’

The Peter Principle stated that people are promoted to their level of incompetence. James’s Corollary says ‘and some continue to be promoted until they are downright dangerous.’

Moore’s Law says computing power will double every eighteen months. James’s Corollary adds ‘but software complexity quadruples in the same timeframe so computing will grow progressively slower and s-l-o-w-e-r.’

Pareto’s Law says eighty percent of your difficulties come from only twenty percent of your problems. James’s Corollary states that unfortunately the twenty percent of your problems are the management and any changes there will only bring about a different twenty percent of problems.

Everyday Proverbs and Sayings:

Find a penny, pick it up and all that day you’ll have a sore back, which will turn out to be a herniated disc requiring major surgery.

Every black cloud has an even blacker underlying.

More haste, more speed, more dead.

Estimates are always right; reality is what’s wrong.

Rome wasn’t even finished building before the barbarians knocked it down.

Man cannot live by bread alone. He also needs beer, sports, Internet porn, and barbecued red meat.

Beware the tides of marketing.

It’s easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than for a poor man to become President of the USA.

Men organize. Women empathize. Children demoralize.

Brute force and ignorance will overcome anything -- if they’re intelligently applied.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t even teach become auditors.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel -- and the first refuge of the incompetent.

Democracy is the process we use to prevent a community’s real leaders rising to the top.

A bad workman blames his tools… or the management.

Where there’s a Will, there’s a war.

All that glisters is not gold on the Shopping Channel.

Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs, put her in a ‘gracious living retirement home’ instead.

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man miss the end of the hockey game and have nothing to talk about at work.

Honesty is one of a number of policy options open to the modern business executive.

Where there’s life, there’s hopelessness.

One man’s fish must, by law in Canada, be another man’s poisson.

Self-praise is no recommendation -- except, apparently, in advertising and celebrity interviews.

A cold lasts seven days if you take medication -- and a week if you don’t. James’s Corollary adds ‘the manufacturer’s recommended duration for taking any medication is three days longer than your body requires to cure the disease naturally.’

The proof of the pudding is in the… dietary information on the package.

A fool and his money are usually found in the sporting and entertainment industries.

In the olden days when kids reached maturity, they were given the key to the door. Nowadays, sensible parents change the locks.

And finally, all’s well, that ends.

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