Rabinow’s Laws
I downloaded Sidewinder-Creative Missile Development at China Lake by Ron Westrum two years ago. It is about product development, technology, history, and work politics. The book was a fantastic read, and it had an additional gem.
Ron listed three laws (advice) by the famous inventor Jacob Rabinow. One rule was, “If the boss is a dope, everyone under him is (or soon will be) a dope.” I wanted to know more about Jacob and learned he wrote Inventing for Fun and Profit. So, I downloaded that book.
Jacob was an electrical engineer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the United States Post Office, and a company he started. His book described his life, work, inventions, and marketing. His approach impressed me, and I will keep the book as a reference.
Yet, there was a problem. Jacob’s book only had two more laws, but he described writing 25. Bummer! Finding the rest became a quest worthy of song and drink, leading me to contact Keith Martin, Supervisory Librarian at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He did an extensive search and sent me a copy of the laws. Way to go, Keith!
I thought it would be fun to share the list, but there was a minor problem. Law # 21 had a sexist example. I omitted the example but kept the law.

1) Everything falls with the same velocity for the first six inches.
2) Everything is equally difficult. (Designing a new paper clip or a guided missile).
3) By spending ten times as much, you can cut the time in half, once.
4) Everyone knows that I should have built the second model first.
5) Everyone want’s improvement s without any changes. (Fix it, but don’t change anything.)
6) The ultimate selling price of an item, in large scale production, is twice the cost of its raw materials.
7) As an art develops, the price range always increases in both directions.
8) Things that are done illegally are done efficiently.
9) The opposition to a new idea is directly proportional to its novelty.
10) If you want to be different, you better be good. If you want to make a different product, it better be very good.
11) There are a few correct ways of doing anything, there is an infinite number of wrong ways.
12) If the boss is a dope, everyone under him is (or soon will be) a dope.
13) In judging a manager, the opinion of his or her subordinates is more important than the opinion of his or her superiors.
14) When you have enough money to tell the boss to shove it, you never have to do it.
15) The optimum size of an organization is 35 people.
16) The most efficient conferences are held in corridors.
17) The highest quality of talent that you can find is that which you can get for nothing.
18) To promote inventions (or any art form), just love inventions (or the art form).
19) An idling professional in your employ loses money 20 times faster than he earns it.
20) When a purchaser, who doesn’t know the difference between good technology and garbage, orders “good technology,” he will always get garbage.
21) You can tell a brilliant person that he is an idiot.
22) If you want a 50-50 deal, offer the other party 60 and ask for 40.
23) If you know how the college kids think today, you know how the country will be tomorrow.
24) If you talk a lot, you will say more stupid things than clever things.
25) An invention is often funny because it is like the punch-line of a joke - completely logical and completely unexpected.
26) If I have to be bored, I’d rather be bored at home.
27) A good book is one that states what I have always believed.

I thought there were 25 laws. I guess Jacob added two more. Analyzing the above, rules 4, 26, 27 are first person, rules 3, 10, 14, 17, 19, 23, 24 are second person. Rules 12, 19, 20, 21 are masculine, while rule 13 has both genders. Jacob needed a little editing to remain consistent, but Grammarly and ProWritingAid did not complain too much.
These rules provided great insight, and I refer to them when evaluating a project or needing advice. I was glad to find them all and hope you enjoyed reading them.

You’re the best -Bill
January 24, 2024
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