Rock, Paper, Scissors

24 11 2008

I’ve been thinking some about my next career and the possibility of putting my negotiation skills to work in some lucrative manner. That got me to thinking about various approaches to dispute resolution and…rock, paper, scissors. Yeah, I’m going to have to come up with something more sophisticated if I plan to make a living.

However, as usual, I had to know the origins of this game. Actually, I think I’ve seen it used more commonly as an impromptu means of dispute resolution than a game, but then it may simply be that I’m out of the loop on these things. I took a wild guess that the game originated in the 20th century in Europe or the U.S. Wrong, as usual.

A quick Google led me to a fantastic website called The Straight Dope: Fighting Ignorance Since 1973 (It’s taking longer than we thought). They interviewed a member of the World Rock Paper Scissors Society who claims the first written record of it is from around 200 BC in Japan. Apparently they couldn’t agree on who ought to wash the supper dishes either.

Of course, there are theories placing the origin in just about every country, but my favorite is that the story was brought to the U.S. by Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, a French general sent to lend George Washington a hand with those annoying Brits. Bonus points to The Straight Dope for drawing a line from Rochambeau to Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown. (I’d like to have seen that round of throws!) But I also like to imagine those crazy Celts playing a round to decide who was going to take a turn slinging rocks at the Romans.

Then there is the Indonesian version describing the three elements as elephant, human and ant. Elephant squishes person, person squishes ant, ant drives elephant crazy by crawling into its ear.

Coming Soon: Embalming: Why Bother?

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One response

27 11 2008
walt

The Straight Dope is a treasure, but don’t trust Uncle
Cecil too far. He makes mistakes.

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