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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 11. 1965.

Them Bags [letter to the editor by M. F. Park]

Sirs,—I should like to correct you on your so-called "Antarctic Factor" reported in your edition of July 18. I have never heard of the particular phenomenon under the name of the "Antarctic Factor." It is, in fact, more widely known as Finagle's Law or Finagle's Factor, and even more widely as Murphy's Law, which states with regard to anything at all: "If anything can go wrong with it, it will."

Now, in Forum on July 20, Mr. Llewellyn made an interesting speech in which he claimed that ever so many millions of Yankee dollars were invested in lollipops, one Wellington City Council rubbish bin, and twenty views of President Johnson's navel, instead of being spent on a real Mars probe. These millions of dollars were in fact victims of Murphy's Law.

The full story goes something like this: A blueprint of the accompanying drawing was shown to various aerospace and military industries, and tenders were called. The piece of hardware illustrated is the Blivit Mk 4 (despite what Mad Magazine calls it) and is designed for locating loopholes, that is, for finding applications of Murphy's Law. On inspection, it will be noticed that the Blivit is itself an application of Murphy's Law.

It is believed that one company (whose motto is: "The impossible we can do, it just takes a little longer") actually produced a solitary copy of the Blivit, the only one in the world. The engineer responsible unfortunately is now in a nursing home, quietly raving. This pioneer effort was put into that WCC dustbin, and is now lost to the world for ever. Those millions of greenbacks did not become lollipops, but went into the restoration of a certain company's expense account bank balance.

Anyhow, the point is this: whether or not that company set out to do so, it established beyond doubt that Murphy's Law is operational in politics, law, draughtsmanship and engineering.—M. F. Park.