[thechat] "thumbs up" or "screw you"

Sean ethanol at mathlab.sunysb.edu
Sun Apr 6 15:48:15 CDT 2003

]It;s quite confusing:

Actually, it makes sense.  I don't know if the western idiom of thumbs
up==good, thumbs down==bad is descendant from the Roman gladiator days; but
if its, we got it wrong.

An upturned thumb, or thumbs up, from the emperor meant death or no mercy.
A withheld thumb--an outstretched arm with the fist held sideways, the thumb
either to the side or inside the fist--was a sign of reprieve.

I chuckle to think of soldiers rolling into town with smiles and waves
thinking the locals are welcoming, when they're really saying something
quite different.


Sean G.

"Surrealism in the service of sanity is no sin."

PS, In a continuing quest to prevent my office's loss from becoming some
landfill's gain, please let me know if you have any ideas for 74 issues of
Scientific American from September 1995 to December 2001 (missing May '96
and June '00).  My local library has no interest.  Thanks.

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