A perishable (and imported) store of value

A perishable (and imported) store of value?

Perhaps the best idea of the crazy cost of spices can be formed by recalling that, in the eleventh century of our era, pepper, which today stands unguarded on every restaurant table and is scattered almost as freely as sand, was counted out corn by corn, and was certainly worth its weight in silver.
...Many states and towns kept their accounts in pepper as if it had been silver or gold. With pepper you could buy land, pay dowries, purchase the freedom of the city. Many princes assessed their taxes in weights of pepper. When, in the Middle Ages, you wished to describe a man as a bloated Croesus, you spoke of him as a ‘pepper sack’.

From Stefan Zweig’s book on Magellan.

Why representation matters

Mr Underwood took nearly 100,000 novels from 1800-2009 and an algorithm that apportions nouns, adjectives and verbs to specific characters. He found that women received about 50% of descriptions in 1800, but barely 30% by 1950 (see chart 2). This mirrored a similar fall in the share of novels by female authors. As writing became more lucrative, it veered away from the world of genteel ladies to that of grubby men. It was only after 1950 that female authorship and characterisation rebounded.

From an article in The Economist.

Undrafted in life

The NBA Finals featured two undrafted, unlikely standouts in Alex Caruso and Duncan Robinson. Anthony Davis is No. 1 on ESPN’s list of top free agents, but Davis leaving the Lakers is about as likely as LeBron James retiring to open a taco stand. The more surprising players were the ones who might actually change teams: VanVleet at No. 2 and Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood at No. 3. They, too, were undrafted.
“I carry that with me every day,” VanVleet said.

I feel this. I don't think you can quantify how important that chip on your shoulder is later on. There's no better motivation.

From a piece on Fred VanVleet, an undrafted NBA player who we're all watching right now.

Ecosystem services

The Indian islands, which are located off the coast of West Bengal, plunge into the Bay of Bengal like dozens of bright green fingers, taking their color from the sundari, as the dominant local species of mangrove is known. The trees thrive in the delta’s slushy mud flats and are the first line of defense against storms. Because they have a dense network of roots that can survive both above and below the waterline, the mangroves reduce wave force and capture sediments. But they are under constant threat from illegal logging. They are also vulnerable to crown death, a disease that has already killed millions of mangroves.
The mangroves are “mobile,” says Susmita Dasgupta, an economist at the World Bank: they move back and forth to avoid getting overwhelmed by the water. But dense human settlements have reduced the amount of free space available to them.
The triple whammy—deforestation, crown death, and overpopulation—is proving too much for the trees. Because they’re an essential component of the Sundarbans, any change to them automatically affects people with forest-based livelihoods—fishers, crab and honey collectors, and those who rely on the forest for fodder and fuel.

Why do humans seem to forget we're just one part of a complex system? From a horrific story about climate change migrants in India.