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Why Do People Call Rock-Paper-Scissors "Roshambo?"

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In some circles, the decisive game of Rock, Paper, Scissors goes by another name: roshambo. In the U.S.,the term is more commonly used on the West Coast, especially in northern California. This week, the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley invited Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer to dive into the origins of the moniker "roshambo."

According to certain legends, the term dates back to the Comte de Rochambeau, a French nobleman who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War (and gets a shoutout in hit musical Hamilton). His name served as a codeword at the battle of Yorktown, where he commanded the French troops.

However, “there’s no historical evidence of it going back to Revolutionary times,” Zimmer tells Lexicon Valley. The earliest known use of "roshambo" as a synonym for the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors is found in a 1936 book called The Handbook for Recreation Leaders, published in Oakland, California. That mention spelled it “ro-sham-beau.”

Zimmer says that the Comte de Rochambeau had no involvement with the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Versions of the game originated in China as far back as 1600 before spreading to Japan, where it was called “Jon Ken Pon.” The Japanese game eventually spread to Europe in the early 20th century, and made it to the U.S. in the 1930s.

Because the San Francisco area has long been home to a large population of East Asian immigrants, it’s likely that kids playing the early version of Rock, Paper, Scissors became familiar with the Japanese name Jon Ken Pon. While there’s little historical evidence to trace the change, Zimmer hypothesizes that Bay Area kids in the ‘30s ended up Americanizing the name (perhaps with the help of the Revolutionary War knowledge they picked up in history class) and transforming it into a word with similar cadence: “roshambo.”

Listen to the whole episode on Slate.

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Mattel Unveils New Uno Edition for Colorblind Players
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On the heels of International Colorblind Awareness Day, Mattel, which owns Uno, announced it would be unveiling a colorblind-friendly edition of the 46-year-old card game.

The updated deck is a collaboration with ColorADD, a global organization for colorblind accessibility and education. In place of its original color-dependent design, this new Uno will feature a small symbol next to each card's number that corresponds with its intended primary color.

As The Verge points out, Mattel is not actually the first to invent a card game for those with colorblindness. But this inclusive move is still pivotal: According to Fast Co. Design, Uno is currently the most popular noncollectible card game in the world. And with access being extended to the 350 million people globally and 13 million Americans who are colorblind, the game's popularity is sure to grow.

Mattel unveils color-friendly Uno deck
Mattel

[h/t: The Verge

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Lightning-Fast Teen Sets New Rubik’s Cube World Record
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In less time than it takes some people to open a pickle jar, 15-year-old Patrick Ponce can solve a Rubik’s Cube. His total time of 4.69 seconds makes him the new holder of the world record for fastest 3-by-3 Rubik’s Cube completion, as highlighted by Compete (and seen in the video below).

Ponce achieved the impressive feat of dexterity at a tournament in Middletown, Virginia, on September 2. He takes the title from the previous Rubik’s Cube speed record holder, Feliks Zemdegs, who solved the puzzle in 4.73 seconds at a competition in Australia in December 2016.

But the teenager may not hold his new position at the top for very long: Expert Rubik's Cubers have been steadily lowering the speed record beneath the 5-second mark since 2015. And human competitors still have a long way to go before solving a cube in 0.887 seconds—that’s the record that was set by a robot in March of 2017.

[h/t Compete]

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