Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's The Rules Of The Game

In the hierarchy of Scissors, Paper, and Stone, by all rights and logic the paper should be able to cover over the scissors. After spending days cleaning and straightening my shop I can tell you that this isn’t just possible, it’s likely. So paper covers scissors, thereby making them less visible, and consequently, useless.

But scissors cut paper. That's the rules. It's the stone that smashes the scissors (beating them in the game). And though paper might find some perverse delight in the smashing, what good are scissors then? Nobody can use broken shears, but isn’t prevention, in this case, worse than the ill?

And that brings up another obvious flaw in the scissors, paper, stone hierarchy. If paper covers stone...

...what do you use to keep the paper from blowing away?

Wouldn't the three of them (scissors, paper, and stone) be much happier if they worked together for their mutual benefit, rather than covering, cutting, and smashing?

And then, see, the whole thing of only three (scissors, paper, stone). Why not crayon or pen? Why not stick?

You know, if scissors, paper, and stone continue to be so exclusive, so segregationist in their world view, it's bound to come back to haunt them. I mean, if they'd just include some other objects (like sticks) then the whole world might look more favorably on the threesome and this constant warring could finally cease.

And if they don't, at some point somebody's going to take real offense and take matters in their own hands. For instance, who do you think wins in a game of "scissors, paper, stone, dynamite"?

And what's with "a" scissors?
It's like that old question... Why are "panties" always plural, but "bra" is singular?

Obviously the charm of the game has to do with the objects --paper, scissors, stone-- being inanimate. For that reason one doesn't feel compassion for the losing object. One feels free to use the verbs (like bashing) and not really feel sorry for the scissors that get bashed, nor remorse for doing the bashing.

Conversely, if you made the game out of animals like, say, turtle, badger, wolf......hmmm...

1) wolf outruns badger but can't break through the turtle's shell
2) badger can rip the turtle out of it's shell but can't catch the wolf
3) turtle confounds the wolf but not the badger

Somebody's bound to feel sorry for one or the other of the animals. Usually the sympathy edge goes to the cute, furry ones. Thus, no kid is going to choose the turtle because it's not as cute.
Not to mention, it's a game of uneven consequences -- the turtle presumably gets eaten, while the badger and wolf merely get outrun and frustrated respectively.

Well, I suppose that's true of Scissors, Paper, Stone. The Scissors get smashed (rendering them useless), while the paper and stone merely get cut and covered respectively. And one might even argue that, while the paper is cut (maybe painful at the time), through that process its number is actually increased...

...So that creates a new problem. Whenever you have to do a "best two out of three" -- for each successive contest the paper is increasing in number (and thereby, presumably, strength), while at the same time, though the stone stays the same, the scissors are in no shape to do battle again. They are smashed.

But wait! Stone sharpens scissors! That means that we now have an uneven game where scissors and stone are working together to shred paper!

So now, scissors and stone team up, shred the paper, but as the paper gets divided into more and more pieces it is capable of covering more and more stones -- thereby keeping them from sharpening the scissors. Thus, the scissors get dull and can no longer cut the paper...

..then the paper, uncut, remains a constant number and thereby controllable, so it starts losing the game because, when a gust of wind kicks up, it hasn't shown the foresight to form alliances with stone to act as a paperweight!

Now, paper, severely undermanned has no hope. If only paper had thought ahead.

So, both paper and scissors have a vested interest in forming alliances with stone, but stone is a cold rock-hearted bastard! ...and he sees little value in forming alliances.

I suppose that inequity goes a long way toward explaining one of the great mysteries of history….

….why there is neither “Scissorshenge” nor “Paperhenge”.


  1. heh, heh. You need to get out more, john....

  2. What? You aren't having winter where you live?

  3. Your badger is really a wolverine......back to the drawing board!