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right hand rule
who's left?

2000.08.31






   so in the United States, we drive on the right side of the road. in Australia they drive on the left side of the road. both places started as British colonies, so they shouldn’t drive any differently. but yet, they do.
   “why is that,” you might say?
   “ok, i'll tell you,” i might reply.
   in the middle ages, when people travelled armed, they rode on the left side of the road, such that their predominantly right hands would be able to aim their lances and swords at the oncoming traffic of unknown friendliness. keeping the right hand towards the center of the road was critical in surviving hostile encounters with mutually armed travellers. thus, using the left side of the road became a survival trait.
   when the Americas were colonized by Europeans, most scofflaws used firearms, so keeping a lance levelled at the oncoming traffic was not a factor in safe travel along American roads. of more interest was the manner of driving your team of horses to market. besides, America was foundes by of captalists, not criminals. um. er. anyway ... with a predominantly right-handed culture, teamsters sat on the left side of their horse-drawn wagons in order to keep the whip centered on their animals. if the driver wanted to stay centered on the road in order to see the furthest, that put the market-driven wagon on the right side of the road. using the right side of the road became a survival trait amongs the rebellious American capitalists.
   Australian started out as a prison colony, and the settlers therefore weren’t travelling to market as often as their keepers. the British custom prevailed through the dominant jail keepers.
   this story comes directly from my Australian coworker. now who can tell me why Australians talk funny?









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