October 20, 2009

A little Elizabethan trivia

Quick, apply the makeup!

El Cabrero has been reading and thinking a good bit about social status these days, a subject that can be both funny and sad. Today I'm going for a little of both.

It was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England that sugar first became widely available, at least to those who had the money to buy it. Given that people weren't too big on dental hygiene then, lots of folks who ate a lot of it had teeth go bad and turn black.

But one difference between then and now was that then black teeth were cool--they showed you could afford to eat lots of sugar. Some people not "fortunate" enough to have the real thing cosmetically blackened their teeth to look like they did.

Thinking about that--and about the political economy of sugar plantations in the "New World"--gives a whole new meaning to the phrase about being "slaves of fashion."

You can find lots more Elizabethan and Jacobean tidbits in Bill Bryson's Shakespeare: The World as Stage.

CLIMATE CHANGE. While the coal thugs around here are all singing the same tune, the NY Times reports that energy companies are all over the place on proposed climate change legislation in the Senate.

HOLY MARKET FAILURE, BATMAN! A new study looks at the hidden costs of coal. Will this set off another coal-fired hissy fit or are they already too busy having one?

NATURAL SELECTION in real time here.

FOOD FIGHT. Here's another salvo from the food revolution.

GOD, MONKEYS AND MORALS. Here's another item by my favorite primatologist.


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