December 18, 2001

Spaced Out


Wouldn't you know it, I finally get around to trying to revive the forum and the thing goes down for two days.
(It's back up now but maybe I shouldn't say that too loudly.)

This is a perfect example of Flagle's Law, a lesser-known but no less compelling companion of Murphy's Law (If anything can go wrong, it will...)

Flagle's Law is otherwise known as the Law of Perversity of Inanimate Objects:

Any inanimate object, regardless of its composition or configuration, may be expected to perform at any time in a totally unexpected manner for reasons that are either entirely obscure or else completely mysterious.

I don't know who Flagle is, if indeed Flagle existed at all; I tried a web search but found nothing about him or her personally. I do remember hearing about this law way back in the dark ages of my youth, in the sixties, so it's been around for awhile.

The sixties: nobody had computers in their homes then.
If you wanted to commune with the world you became a ham radio operator.
That was always on my someday to-do list until the internet came along. I did dabble in short wave radio listening for awhile and had a collection of QSL cards from all over the world.

I don't think I have them anymore.. unless they're in one of the spider-infested boxes in the basement along with a couple of college essays that I KNOW I've seen in the past twenty years but can't actually find.

Of course I'll find them when I'm looking for something else, which brings us back to Flagle's Law.

My practical nature contends that inanimate objects cannot, by their very nature, be perverse. It must be the people who attempt to interact with them.
The best evidence for this is my son Mark, who is one of those people whom computers hate. The computer will see Mark coming and immediately go into spasm.
It performs well enough for me. It performs well enough for Rob. But let Mark touch it and nothing goes right.

The same applies to me and parking spots - for me there aren't any; but ever since he's owned a car (almost thirty years) a spot is waiting right outside his destination for the Housemate.

Another similar law reared its ugly head yesterday: Pauline's Law (if nobody has already claimed it) states that the effort made to catch a desired program or broadcast event on TV is inversely proportional to its degree of convenience in scheduling.
When the space shuttle launches and landings (which I love to watch) are in the wee morning hours, I'm there, or at least I fail trying.
Yesterday the shuttle landed around 1 PM local time.
I was home.
I was cleaning the mildew out of my bathroom.
I forgot all about it until around 5 PM; of course, due to Flagle's Law, the landing was not postponed as it often is.

Of course I'm glad the mission came to a safe end; some of the astronauts (and cosmonauts?) returning home were in space on Sept. 11 (the date that needs no further explanation) and could see smoke rising from New York City. It defies the imagination.

Of course security for the launch and landings took on a whole new dimension. Tourists were banned, so I couldn't have gone to this one even if I'd wanted to. (I do want to attend a launch one day.)

According to CNN,

Four attack helicopters flew in formation over the Kennedy Space Center an hour before touchdown.

Attack HELICOPTERS?

I suppose they are a valid form of protection but the concept just sounds strange.. sort of like protecting your home with attack poodles.

Finally, speaking of space travel and the sixties - it was a monumental achievement at the time but looking back it becomes even more monumental when you consider that men landed on the MOON and returned safely, several times, with the aid of computers that were but a small fraction as powerful as the three year old one on which I'm typing now.

Linque Du Jour:   Space.com

Pretty good all-purpose space site.

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