MURPHY'S AND RAWSON'S "UNWRITTEN LAWS"
Hugh Rawson, the author of WICKED WORDS, DEVIOUS DERIVATIONS, RAWSON'S
DICTIONARY OF EUPHEMISM & OTHER DOUBLETALK, and the AMERICAN
DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN QUOTATIONS, has come out with:
UNWRITTEN LAWS: THE UNOFFICIAL RULES OF LIFE AS HANDED DOWN BY
OTHER SAGES (290 pages, $22, Crown Publishers, 1997).
I was going to review it, but let's just say it's an O. K rehash of
books that have already been written. In 1978, Paul Dickson wrote THE
OFFICIAL RULES. In 1979, Harold Faber wrote THE BOOK OF LAWS. Also in 1979,
John Peers wrote 1001 LOGICAL LAWS, ACCURATE AXIOMS, PROFOUND PRINCIPLES,
TRUSTY TRUISMS, HOMEY HOMILIES, COLORFUL COROLLARIES, QUOTABLE
RAMBUNCTIOUS RUMINATIONS FOR ALL WALKS OF LIFE. Give Rawson credit for at
least acknowledging these books on page 269.
The only law I'm interested in is Murphy's Law. We discussed it earlier
this year, and I'm still not convinced.
The U. S. Navy's MURPHY'S LAW training film in 1957 is clear, but the
1949 story puzzles me. Supposedly, Captain Edward A. Murphy, Jr. worked
under Colonel John P. Stapp at Edwards Air Force Base; Murphy screwed in
things the wrong way. The original law was that if there are two ways of
doing something (right and wrong), someone will do it the wrong way.
Check the HDAS H-O 1957 citation from the Tamony Collection. Peter
Tamony (in nearby San Francisco) was a master at collecting Americanisms.
How could "Murphy's Law" have completely escaped him for eight years? And
why is the Edward A. Murphy, Jr. story coming out as late as 1978?? If
"Murphy's Law" was used in manufacturers' ads--WHERE ARE THOSE ADS??
I tried to check sportswriter Jack Murphy of the San Diego Union, who
gave his name to Jack Murphy Stadium. The Library of Congress started
getting the San Diego newspaper in 1958. When I asked why, the LOC librarian
replied "state capital and two major cities" (Sacramento, San Francisco, and
Los Angeles). San Diego has a football team, a baseball team, a major
military installation--I can't explain the LOC!! When I checked Murphy's
column in 1958, I did NOT find a Murphy's Law in the title nor in the copy.
Until I find an earlier citation, the 1949 story remains an unsupported