For more than eight years, southwestern South Dakota has been in a drought.   Every year that I’ve lived here, the early summer months of May, June, and July are invariably blindingly bright, parchingly dry, and blisteringly hot.   Taking this into account for her two-week visit here, my mother-in-law packed only shirts and shorts, with a single pair of pants and a light jacket on the off chance of slight shower.

Instead, we’ve had so much rain and hail and stormy wet weather this week alone that the National Weather Service enthusiastically (albeit entirely unjustifiably) declared that the eight-year drought was over.   As a result, my mother-in-law has been unwillingly housebound, deprived of the tourist haven that is the Black Hills in the summertime.   I commented on this as she stared out the streaky window despondently.

She: Oh well.   That’s Murphy’s Law for you.

Me: Actually, that’s  not Murphy’s Law. It’s Finagle’s Law.

She: What?

Me: The popular version of Murphy’s Law, the  that most people quote, the one to which you refer, the one that goes “If something  can go wrong, it will,” is not, in fact, Murpy’s Law.   It’s actually called Finagle’s Law.   Murphy’s Law, in contrast, states that “If someone can do it wrong, then someone will.”

The main difference between Finagles’ Law — the wrong Murphy’s Law — and the correct Murphy’s Law is where they assign blame.   Finagle’s Law asserts that human misery is primarily the fault of a mean and pathological Universe, whereas Murphy’s Law itself asserts that the primary source of human suffering is humanity itself.

You’re suggesting that the rain is an inconvenience brought on by a Universal truth rather than a human glitch, so you’re actually invoking Finagle‘s Law.

She: I see.

Me: Everybody gets it wrong.

She: That’s Murphy’s Law for you.

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