What can you buy for two beaver hats?

This morning, i bought a Nantucket Nectars Half and Half.  It was delicious, as well as educational.  For example, I learned from the cap that Nantucket was purchased in 1692 for 30 pounds sterling and two beaver hats.  It makes me wonder who amongst the crazy islanders (aka English, who I assume are the ones most likely to traffic in English pounds) would buy an island or sell one using money AND beaver hats.  How much worth does a beaver hat really have?  It’s no longer a highly profitable pelt, and it’s nowhere near as fashionable or as warm as a coon skin cap.  What does a beaver hat even look like?

Evidently it was not so much the pelt of the beaver itself that was valuable, but the felt that could be made from it.  This felt was in vogue at the time, and versatile, being molded into a variety of shapes.  So a beaver hat could be a top hat, or a brown derby, or even a cowboy hat, depending on your inclination.  I wonder which shape was worth an island?  Eventually silk hats became popular and replaced beaver felt as the hat making material of the time.  Today, on eBay, such hats can range from $10-100 in a variety of shapes and styles.  So be sure to ask your local spinsterish haberdasher if the latest style is made of real, 100% beaver.

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Pain: the real class divider.

Time released an article recently about a study between the correspondence of pain (especially chronic pain) and a variety of other categories: income, age, gender, education, and class.  The study, authored by Alan Krueger and Arthur Stone, is noted for its more detailed analysis of how Americans live with pain.  While the information I can gather from the article does not address much of the lower end of the spectrum (i.e, those only dealing with occasional, minor pain), the incidence of more severe or prolonged pain does say some interesting things.

“Americans in households making less than $30,000 a year spend nearly 20% of their lives in moderate to severe pain, compared with less than 8% of people in households earning above $100,000” says the article, drawing the conclusion that those who make less feel more pain.  This could be a sign of lower-paying jobs that require a good deal of manual labor, with a corresponding higher risk of injury.  However, to me it suggests the possibility of another conclusion: those who suffer from moderate to severe pain on a regular basis find it more difficult to suceed at their careers than those who do not.

The article itself goes on to suggest such an idea related to chronic pain: “People with chronic pain also worked less, the new study found, costing U.S. businesses as much as $60 billion annually.”  Perhaps this suggests a corresponding loss of work for thsoe who suffer moderate pain?  What an astounding idea!

Still, Time had one up on the Boston Metro this morning: one of their headlines read “Rich kids packed off to fat-wallet camp: Summer camps teach financial responsibility earl”.  Hmm.  It seems we’ve become a little confused about old money and titles.  At least they managed to get it together for the online edition.