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One often hears stories about civilised and pre-civilised societies using shells, bones, and other trinkets as currency. How exactly did this system work? Taking the example of shells, did they have to be the same type of shell, have the same weight or was the system completely arbitrary?
These are the basic characteristics of a currency:
- easy to carry: if you have something to exchange, you should be able to relocate and carry it where ever you wish. If you can do that, it is practical to make it currency. This characteristics formed shells and other smaller stones, shiny things like silver and gold and precious stones to currency.
- rare: rare things are good to make it currency, so if you posess a certain amount of it, ensures you are richer than those who owns less. This characteristics made precious stones, silver and gold to be currency.
- hard to copy: connected to rare characteristics. You can't make gold. So you can't make yourself rich only by producing the currency. If a currency is infinitely reproducable, the value is zero. That's why all the gold, silver and even paper money is valuable, you can spot the false ones.
- accepted: mutual acceptation is needed. If an item is accepted by a lot of people, it serves as a currency, no matter what is it. For example in England there were wooden sticks as currency, signed by king. The wood itself worthless, but a higher authority forced to be accepted widely, so it is currency. A little less autocratic currency was salt in the ancient times. It wasn't easy to get, and it had value as food. Even if it wasn't the most practical currency it made it's way to be accepted widely, and the people started to measure value in a volume of salt.
- comparable: this is easy the be fulfilled. If a currency is comparable to other amounts of currencies. This allowes exchange rates, and refines the values. You can make prices for a cow, an entire village or even just for an arrow. Therefore alone the gold wasn't currency, it needed to be divided to tiny pieces, so it was said I give 20 ounces of silver to an ounce of gold, so you don't have to divide your gold to microscopic pieces to buy just an arrow head.
- Hard, durable: as Tom Au wrote.
Did I miss something? Feel free to expand the list!
Overall why were for example shells good for currency?
It was pretty durable, rare, hard to copy, easy to carry. And if you want to compare, you could say I give 5 shells for a big and nice one, so on some primitive barter level, it was comparable.
Further information on early economics here is a link to Aristotle' work "Politics", you might find good information in the linked first book, IX. chapter
Shells, bones, etc. worked as currency because they were "hard," and durable, and because (small groups of) people could come to an agreement on their value. The same was true of more "advanced" currency based on coins of metals such as copper, silver, or gold. Thus, they functioned as a store of (monetary) value.
It is probably worth supplementing @TomAu's answer with Marx on Value, first three chapters of Volume 1. Somewhat idealist, but it contrasts different uses of money well. Clearly points out that specie is "fiat". Dave Graeber's Debt: The First Five Thousand Years. A more anthropological account, but again, points out the social construction of currency.
A big part of this depends on whether you consider "rarity" (labor input production cost) to be a determinate factor in the viability of currency. The search and selection "costs" to an early agricultural or high intensity protein gathering economy of picking out "shells such as this," is a considerable embodiment of social time spent. But at what point is this fully currency, and at what point destructive display of wealth? Time for Graeber's anthropology probably.
How did shells, bones, and other trinkets work as currency? - History
The Calusa (kah LOOS ah) lived on the sandy shores of the southwest coast of Florida. These Indians controlled most of south Florida. The population of this tribe may have reached as many as 50,000 people. The Calusa men were tall and well built with long hair. Calusa means "fierce people," and they were described as a fierce, war-like people. Many smaller tribes were constantly watching for these marauding warriors. The first Spanish explorers found that these Indians were not very friendly. The explorers soon became the targets of the Calusa attacks. This tribe was the first one that the Spanish explorers wrote home about in 1513.
How the Calusa Lived
The Calusa lived on the coast and along the inner waterways. They built their homes on stilts and wove Palmetto leaves to fashion roofs, but they didn't construct any walls.
The Calusa Indians did not farm like the other Indian tribes in Florida. Instead, they fished for food on the coast, bays, rivers, and waterways. The men and boys of the tribe made nets from palm tree webbing to catch mullet, pinfish, pigfish, and catfish. They used spears to catch eels and turtles. They made fish bone arrowheads to hunt for animals such as deer. The women and children learned to catch shellfish like conchs, crabs, clams, lobsters, and oysters.
The Calusa as Shell Indians
The Calusa are considered to be the first "shell collectors." Shells were discarded into huge heaps. Unlike other Indian tribes, the Calusa did not make many pottery items. They used the shells for tools, utensils, jewelry, and ornaments for their shrines. Shell spears were made for fishing and hunting.
Shell mounds can still be found today in many parts of southern Florida. Environmentalists and conservation groups protect many of these remaining shell mounds. One shell mound site is Mound Key at Estero Bay in Lee County. Its construction is made entirely of shells and clay. This site is believed to be the chief town of the Calusa, where the leader of the tribe, Chief Carlos lived.
Archaeologists have excavated many of these mounds to learn more about these extinct people. Artifacts such as shell tools, weapons, and ornaments are on display in many Florida history museums.
The Calusa as Sailors
Living and surviving on the coast caused the tribesmen to become great sailors. They defended their land against other smaller tribes and European explorers that were traveling by water. The Calooshahatchee River, which means "River of the Calusa," was their main waterway.
They traveled by dugout canoes, which were made from hollowed-out cypress logs approximately 15 feet long. They used these canoes to travel as far as Cuba. Explorers reported that the Calusa attacked their ships that were anchored close to shore. The Calusa were also known to sail up and down the west coast salvaging the wealth from shipwrecks.
What Happened to the Calusa?
What happened to these fierce sailing Indians? The Calusa tribe died out in the late 1700s. Enemy Indian tribes from Georgia and South Carolina began raiding the Calusa territory. Many Calusa were captured and sold as slaves.
In addition, diseases such as smallpox and measles were brought into the area from the Spanish and French explorers and these diseases wiped out entire villages. It is believed that the few remaining Calusa Indians left for Cuba when the Spanish turned Florida over to the British in 1763.
The wearing of charms may have begun as a form of amulet or talisman to ward off evil spirits or bad luck. 
During the pre-historic period, jewellery charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood.
For instance, there is evidence from Africa that shells were used for adornments around 75,000 years ago. In Germany intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife. 
During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions.
Charm bracelets have been the subject of several waves of trends. The first charm bracelets were worn by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Hittites and began appearing from 600 – 400 BC. 
For example, Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes. She was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she “loved to wear and give charm bracelets. When her beloved Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular lockets of hair from the deceased, miniature portraits of the deceased, charm bracelets carved in jet.” [ citation needed ]
In 1889, Tiffany and Co. introduced their first charm bracelet — a link bracelet with a single heart dangling from it, a bracelet which is an iconic symbol for Tiffany today. [ citation needed ]
Despite the Great Depression, during the 1920s and 1930s platinum and diamonds were introduced to charm bracelet manufacturing.
Soldiers returning home after World War II brought home trinkets made by craftsmen local to the area where they were fighting to give to loved ones. American teenagers in the 1950s and early 1960s collected charms to record the events in their lives. Screen icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford helped to fuel the interest and popularity of charm bracelets. 
Although interest and production waned through the latter part of the 20th century, there was a resurgence of popularity after 2000 and collectors eagerly sought out vintage charms. Inspired by the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, bracelets with little charms of swords, crosses and skulls were introduced as a fashion trend during winter 2006.
A charm is a small ornament usually dangling from a bracelet or chain. However, the Italian charm bracelet is configured differently. While each charm is separate and interchangeable, it lies flat against the wrist and is interlocking to the next charm, similarly to an expansion band. A charm-link connecting tool is available to change the charms, but fingers seem to work just as well.
9 Humans Adapted To Survive Car Accidents
Human beings have a natural speed limit for the sake of our health. For millennia, we used only the power of our legs to move. Then we created the first self-propelled vehicles, which were capable of moving us at higher speeds.
But evidently, an artificial invention like that has its negative effects on unadapted bodies like ours. A traffic accident at low speed can cause serious physical injuries, while a car crash at high speeds can turn us into meat puree.
So, how would we be if we had evolved to withstand traffic accidents? Well, experts in Australia have formulated an answer that is both interesting and creepy. Meet Graham.
Graham is the result of a campaign against traffic accidents conducted by Australia&rsquos Transport Accident Commission (TAC). He is supposed to be a crash-proof man, so what is most important in his anatomy is not aesthetics but functionality.
Graham has a thick skin that is resistant to scratches and small cuts. He also has a flat and fat-covered face to protect the ears and nose from sudden impacts. Although his brain is the same as ours, his skull is bigger, thicker, and full of soft tissues to absorb the force of the collision during an accident. The man has no neck because it breaks easily in accidents. 
Graham&rsquos ribs are covered by tissue bags that protrude like extra nipples and absorb impacts as if they were airbags. The bones of his legs are modified to act as &ldquosprings&rdquo that allow the man to quickly flee from the scene of an accident. In turn, Graham&rsquos knees can rotate freely so that the legs do not break at that point.
The Graham sculpture has received many awards and much recognition around the world due to its ingenious way of showing us that we are far from being car-crash proof.
The Indian Trade
A silver beaver effigy, a popular symbol in the Indian trade in the 18th century. Artifacts pictured in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.
Trade—the exchange of something for something else—was an important part of Anglo-Indian relations from the earliest days of European settlement in the New World. The Jamestown colonists traded glass beads and copper to the Powhatan Indians in exchange for desperately needed corn. Later, the Indian trade broadened to include trading English-made goods such as axes, cloth, guns and domestic items in exchange for shell beads. Fur traders like John Hollis in the Chesapeake traded the beads to other Indian tribes for beaver pelts, which were then sold for tobacco bound for the English market.
This trade network often resulted in great wealth for the European traders but also resulted in American Indians becoming dependent on English-made goods. A telling example is a 1783 letter written by Scottish merchant Thomas Forbes. Forbes was a member of Panton, Leslie, and Company which traded with the Indians in the southeastern United States after the American Revolution. Forbes’ September 28, 1783, letter to London lists “Articles of British Manufacture absolutely necessary for the Indians inhabiting the Western frontier of East and West Florida in North America.” The letter enumerates woolen, cotton and linen goods (including broadcloth, thread, blankets and garters), as well as saddles, shoes, hats, “riffles and smoothbored musketry very cheap,” gunpowder, flints and bullets iron items such as pots, axes, hoes and hatchets and other domestic items such as scissors, razors and “dressing glasses” (mirrors).
The Indians in Florida also required other specific items that were made exclusively for the Indian trade. Items such as “silver trinkets for the ears, arms, and necks” were collectively known as trade silver, and were often produced by British or North American tradesmen specifically for the Indian trade. Articles of trade silver were important parts of Indian dress and adornment and can be seen in many existing portraits of important chiefs and leaders from the 18th and 19th centuries.
A gorget made by a New York silversmith for the Indian trade, probably for a member of the Iroquois.
The Indian trade also included ceremonial gift-giving, often accompanying negotiations or diplomatic treaties between the colonial, British or, later, United States government and a powerful tribe or individual. During the American Revolution, when Patriots and British representatives sought the support of Indian allies, both sides used trade goods to influence the chiefs’ decisions. When delegates from the First Continental Congress met with members of the Six Nation tribes in 1775, they brought with them rum and other gifts to persuade the powerful chiefs to remain neutral in the “family quarrel” between colonists and England. Similarly, when British agents visited members of the Seneca in 1777, Mary Jemison (a captive who married a Seneca warrior) remembered that the British agents “made a present to each Indian of a suit of clothes, a brass kettle, a gun, and tomahawk, a scalping-knife, a quantity of powder and lead, a piece of gold, and promised a bounty on every scalp that should be brought in.”
In addition to being powerful diplomatic gifts, the Indian trade had another direct impact on the American Revolution. As the 18th century progressed, items of British manufacture such as guns and gunpowder, hatchets and axes, and broadcloth and thread replaced more traditional tools, weapons and other aspects of Indian life. As each Indian nation weighed the choice of whether to remain neutral in the conflict or take the side of the American Patriots or the British, they had to consider how their choice would impact their access to the gifts and trade goods upon which they were now dependent.
Today in NYC History: How The Dutch Actually Bought Manhattan (The Long Version)
1916 Redrawing of The Castello Plan, map of 1660 New Amsterdam via Wikimedia Commons.
On May 4, 1626, Peter Minuit arrived in New Amsterdam as the new director from the Dutch West India Company. Minuit was in his early 30s, and had been sent to diversify the trade coming out of New Netherland, then almost exclusively animal pelts. Minuit means “midnight” in French (spoken by some of the Dutch), so if you prefer to think of Manhattan’s purchaser as “Peter Midnight,” go for it.
For more, join our Untapped Cities tour that traces the remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam:
Tour of The Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam
Minuit (and his predecessor, Verhulst) was already authorized by the Dutch West India Company to settle any disputes with local Native American tribes over trading and land rights. Soon after his arrival, Minuit entered into a transaction with one or more local tribes over the rights to Manhattan. No original title deed remains, and the main documentary evidence is a Dutch West India Company internal communication from late 1626 that includes the following (translated):
Yesterday the ship the Arms of Amsterdam arrived here. It sailed from New Netherland out of the River Mauritius on the 23d of September. They report that our people are in good spirit and live in peace. The women also have borne some children there. They have purchased the Island of Manhattes from the savages for the value of 60 guilders. It is 11,000 morgens in size.
Nearly every other detail about the transaction must be inferred. Let’s dive in.
The Date: Edward Robb Ellis, who wrote the entertaining, if not entirely precise Epic of New York City, offers May 6, 1626, only two days after Minuit’s arrival in New Netherland. The Burrow & Wallace tome Gotham pegs the transaction as occurring in “May or June.” Historian Rob Howe’s post on the Gotham Center site claims “most likely in mid-May.” Some historians won’t concede this precision, but no one offers an alternative date.
Conclusion: The purchase made in May, 1626.
Minuit’s Partner: Ellis says Minuit met with “the principal chiefs of nearby tribes.” Gotham argues that it is impossible to say which of the local Lenape tribes Minuit met with. Historian Nathaniel Benchley seems more confident that Minuit was dealing with the Canarsees, a Lenape tribe principally located in south Brooklyn, led by Chief Seyseys. The Canarsees were happy to take whatever the Dutch were offering, Benchley claims, given that the Weckquaesgeeks, a closely related Wappinger tribe, actually occupied most of mid and northern Manhattan Island. Benchley’s theory is one explanation for the Native Americans in question accepted such a low price, and of course turns the whole notion of Europeans exploiting Native Americans on its head. Given the bloody skirmishes fought between Wappinger tribes and New Netherland settlers during the early 1640s (“Kieft’s War”), it’s obvious that not all Native Americans respected whatever deed was signed in 1626. Before Kieft’s War began, these tribes were living comfortably in the outskirts of New Amsterdam, still a tiny settlement with only a few farms north of Wall Street.
Lastly, there is a possibility that whoever signed the deal had a sense of the Europeans’ power, and agreed to such a deal out of fear or strategic alliance. We haven’t found any scholarly work pushing this theory, but I’m sure it’s out there, and we’ll adopt it for now.
Conclusion: We don’t really know who signed the deal, but it could have been the Canarsees, who didn’t have much of a footprint in Manhattan, rather than the Weckquaesgeeks, who lived north of the Dutch on the island.
The Cost: “Sixty guilders” is one of the few hard facts we have to work with. Many a blog post has been spent constructing how much that is worth today. The “$24” figure was first advanced by a historian in 1846. Since then, valuations are all over the map, getting as high as $15,000. To me, this is moot, since we can be pretty sure what the recipient tribes actually received, and it wasn’t an appreciating trust fund.
In 1630, the Dutch purchased Staten Island, also for 60 guilders value. A copy of the deed explained that the supplies offered to local chiefs in exchange for unfettered right to the land included kettles, axes, hoes, Jew’s harps (an old instrument), anddrilling awls, the last of which were essential for ramping up the manufacturing of wampum, the shell-beads that made up the local currency.
These items are often referred to as “trinkets”, which conjures images of tacky Times Square gift shops. In fact, these items were highly useful to local Native Americans. That said, their collective value was pretty meager, given that they were exchanged for large islands. Finally, it is worth myth-busting the notion that Manhattan was literally traded for beads.
Conclusion: Forget the exact modern dollar amount – Manhattan was acquired for a useful, but not particularly expensive set of European tools.
Buying or Leasing: One of the most common explanations of the 60-guilder price is that Native Americans didn’t have the same concept of land rights as Europeans. This 2002 law review article by Robert Miller makes a compelling case, however, that this is a misconception, one perhaps willfully misunderstood by generations of Europeans and Americans to lessen their guilt over blatantly seizing native land. While many Native American tribes did have communal land that belonged to that specific tribe, that land wasn’t other tribes’ for the taking, and even within tribes, certain families had rights and responsibilities associated with parcels of land not dissimilar to European capitalist constructs. Law professor G. Edward White similarly argues that local tribes had a tradition of property rights, and may have been simply offering the Dutch hunting rights.
Over at Gotham Center, Richard Howe notes that the Dutch, who relied less on brute force than their European peers, certainly thought the transaction was a full and legitimate title to the land, parceling it out over the succeeding years to private purchasers. Indeed, the Dutch West India Company continued to negotiate with the Lenape for parts of Brooklyn and Queens over the next few decades. (As well as that 1630 Staten Island purchase.) This is evidence that both sides knew what they were doing with the transaction, adding further credence to Benchley’s theory that not all of the interested parties (namely, the Weckquaesgeeks) were at the negotiating table.
Conclusion: We should not assume that whoever negotiated with Minuit thought to himself, “Hey, no one can really own land, man, let’s share with the Dutch.” Because Native Americans had an understanding of property rights, it is likely that whoever agreed to this deal didn’t have much to lose by it, or at least knew what they were doing.
Too Long / Didn’t Read
In May of 1626, Dutch West India Company rep Peter Minuit met with local Lenape Native Americans to purchase the rights to the island of Manhattan for the value of 60 guilders. We don’t know who signed the deal with Minuit, but it could have been the Canarsees, who didn’t have much of a footprint in Manhattan, rather than the Weckquaesgeeks, who lived north of the Dutch on the island. The exact value of 60 guilders in modern dollars is irrelevant – the transaction itself involved a useful but not particularly pricey set of European tools. (And not beads or junk trinkets.)
It is a misunderstanding of Native American property rights to think that Minuit’s trading partner thought to himself, “Hey, no one can really own land, man, let’s share with the Dutch.” It is more likely that the deal was amenable to the partnering Lenape, either because they had little at stake in Manhattan, thought they were retaining an interest in the land, or a combination of fear and political strategy counseled in favor of a deal.
And THAT is how the Dutch purchased Manhattan.
For more, join our Untapped Cities tour that traces the remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam:
For more NYC History, check out our Today in NYC History series here. For more from the author, check out his blog.
Ancient Pompeiians Had Good Dental Health But Were Not Necessarily Vegetarians
While archaeologists have been applying this 21st century technology -- 3D scanning and printing the casts as well as CT scanning them -- for a while now, today's news caught my eye because of the dietary implications. After looking at nearly three dozen people, archaeologists have found little evidence of dental cavities. What raised my eyebrows, though, was a quote in La Repubblica, "I pompieani avevano denti sanissimi, solo in rarissimi casi scalfiti dalla carie: questo, grazie all’alimentazione vegetariana prevalente e alla quasi totale assenza di zuccheri nel consumo alimentare, come ha spiegato l’odontoiatra specialista Elisa Vanacore." ["The Pompeiians have healthy teeth, only in the rarest cases marred by decay: this is thanks to a mainly vegetarian diet and to an almost total lack of sugar in the diet, explained dental surgeon Elisa Vanacore."] Yes, their diet was likely high in fresh fruits and vegetables, and low in refined sugar. But that doesn't make it vegetarian, and vegetarian diets aren't linked to low frequencies of dental cavities.
When we talk about ancient diets, we're looking primarily at commonalities - what the average person was eating - while at the same time understanding that omnivores make for a dietarily heterogeneous population. There is no singular "American" diet, but we can agree that most of us likely consume a large amount of corn-based products, which are cheap and ubiquitous in the form of corn syrup, tortilla chips, popcorn, etc., and that differentiates us from Europeans. In the absence of toothbrushes and toothpaste, we should expect to see different dental health.
Some of the 86 teeth found in a shop drain in the Roman Forum. These cavity-filled teeth date to the . [+] 1st century AD. (Photo used with the permission of Marshall Becker.)
However, there is no singular "Roman" diet, particularly in the Empire when goods were moving around at astounding rates, although researchers agree that a heck of a lot of wheat was consumed by all social classes and that olives and olive oil contributed a number of calories and fat to most people's diets. Ancient historical sources also seem to agree that no one really liked barley and that millet was only consumed in times of struggle, as both of these grains make inferior bread compared to wheat. Yet dried millet tended to keep longer than other grains, making it good for storage along with dry legumes like chickpeas, lupin beans, and lentils, the latter another food that was most often consumed in times of shortage.
Ordinary Romans - that is, small farmers, peasants, and rural slaves who made up the majority of the ancient Italian population - likely got a large chunk of their diet from their non-cash crops like millet, legumes, and turnips, at least based on what writers such as Columella, Strabo, and Galen tell us. Their daily diet would have been a far cry from the exotic foodstuffs found at elite banquets. As the Roman author Horace writes, "Ieiunus raro stomachus volgaria temnit" (Satires II, 2, xxxviii): A hungry stomach rarely scorns plain food.
In this May 14, 2014 photo, a plaster cast captures the horror of a victim of the volcanic eruption . [+] of Mount Vesuvius, which in A.D. 79 destroyed the ancient town of Pompeii, near modern-day Naples, Italy. The plaster injection process was devised by 19th-century archaeologist Giuseppi Fiorelli to create casts of bodies encased by volcanic ash. An estimated 2.5 million people visit the ruins each year. (AP Photo/Michelle Locke)
In order to find out what kinds of plain food the ancient Italians were eating, bioarchaeologists like me have started to perform carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of skeletons. Biochemical analysis isn't perfect, as it only yields a very macro-view of the diet. That is, the carbon isotope ratio can provide information about the kinds of plants and grains consumed, and the nitrogen isotope ratio can provide information on the relative amount of legumes and fish consumed. My own work on people from Imperial-era Rome, largely contemporaneous with these Pompeiians, shows that people were eating a little bit of everything: no one was a true pescatarian, and no one was a true vegetarian. They were likely eating pork, lentils and chickpeas, and wheat mostly.
New research on the teeth from Pompeii -- and potential isotope analyses of the bones -- could hold the key to understanding the diet of people living in these rich towns. While not the uber-elite, many of the residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum were wealthy and could afford high-end food. Perhaps their dental health was better than the people who've been studied at Rome, Portus Romae, and suburban sites. Additional evidence, as with the zoological and botanical remains from Herculaneum sewers, will certainly be compiled in the near future to form a more well-rounded understanding of the ancient diet at Pompeii. I am confident it wasn't wholly vegetarian, but I am more confident that regional variation in dental disease and biochemical composition of bones will show that there wasn't one "Roman" diet.
Meet Alina, Ravka and the Grisha
We open with the ominous image of a broken ship, its sail flapping uselessly in the wind. As the camera draws closer, it reveals an eagle etched into the cloth, as a young woman&rsquos voice warns us that the darkness is full of monsters. Might as well mark this with a big neon sign that reads, &ldquoForeshadowing,&rdquo for what it&rsquos worth.
But then we see the young woman&rsquos face: And, of course, it&rsquos our heroine, Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Lei). As she rolls by carriage through the land of East Ravka, she&rsquos sketching the Shadow Fold, a line of pure darkness that cuts through her home country, stunting its opportunities for trade and travel.
If you&rsquove read the Grishaverse novels from which Shadow and Bone is adapted, you&rsquoll remember Alina is depicted as a plain, waif-like brunette (later blonde) with little to no meat on her bones. Li is half Chinese and her race immediately becomes a focal point: She mentions that she looks like her mother, &ldquoand she looked like the enemy.&rdquo This is an interesting change for Alina's character, given that one of the most frequent criticisms among Grishaverse fans is that Alina is a cookie-cutter Chosen One: the blonde from a bad background who&rsquos revealed, in the end, to be beautiful and powerful and desired by all the boys. But Li must also represent an Alina who endures racism on top of the literal darkness devouring her homeland.
To further lay the groundwork of Alina&rsquos plight, we're treated to a flashback, in which a young Alina traces her fingers along a map. We sadly don&rsquot get a long look at the map itself, so it&rsquos useful to pay close attention as Alina&rsquos guardian, the orphanage caretaker, Ana Kuya, explains:
Alina&rsquos homeland of Ravka is bordered by two enemy nations. To the north, there&rsquos Fjerda, filled with bigoted blue-eyed and blonde-haired warriors. To the south, there are the mountains of Shu Han, protected by the Shu people. Based on the Mongolian and Chinese, Shu have shiny black hair and traditionally East Asian characteristics. They, too, have a history of fighting Ravka, thus making them an &ldquoenemy&rdquo in this tale. When the Fold was created, it &ldquoate&rdquo Alina&rsquos parents, orphaning her and numerous others.
At this orphanage, we&rsquore introduced to a tender-hearted boy about Alina&rsquos age, cradling a rabbit in his arms. Fans of the books will immediately recognize him as Malyen Oretsev, Alina&rsquos oldest and dearest friend. After little Alina defends him from a bully by way of a letter opener, we&rsquore thrust back into the present&mdashwhere we&rsquore treated to some Mal (Archie Renaux) fan service via a shirtless boxing match.
Now older and wiser, Mal has apparently dropped his softie shell to become a formidable fighter, and he knocks out his opponent moments before an unnamed man steps into the ring. This mystery warrior can do some funky things with his hands, including, apparently, summoning gusts of wind from nowhere. Mal, seething, demands, &ldquoYou try me without that magic, huh?&rdquo
This is our first glimpse into the political frictions at the heart of Shadow and Bone. Mal and Alina are members of the First Army, a human military force serving the Ravkan king. Mal is a tracker, Alina a cartographer, and their units are joining up at the edge of the Fold to decipher a way through the southern mountains. But they&rsquore not alone at camp&mdashthey&rsquore sharing the dusty gathering space with a group of outsiders. A crew of robe-adorned trainees positioned at one edge of the camp reveal themselves to be Grisha&mdashsuper-powered humans who can summon the elements (fire, wind, water) or manipulate the human body, like speeding up hearts until they burst. Alina and Mal look upon them with some combination of disgust and envy: &ldquoUgh. Grisha.&rdquo
The two trade some playful barbs about their troubled childhood only to catch a glimpse of the newest skiff, a ship designed by Grisha to sail upon the sand and silently slip through the Fold. We&rsquore also treated to introductions from Mikhael (Angus Castle-Doughty) and Dubrov (Andy Burse), two of Mal&rsquos best mates who do their damnedest to reveal Mal's big ol&rsquo crush on his best friend. But before they can settle into their comedy routine, the scene cuts to evening&mdashand an announcement that sets the show&rsquos events into motion.
You see, the Fold not only provides imminent danger to anyone who steps foot into its shadows, but it also cuts off Ravkan resources, meaning occasional trips through it are necessary to keep the armies fed. And who better to send through the Fold but expendable army recruits? When Mal&rsquos name is called as part of the &ldquonightmare lottery,&rdquo he shrugs it off with a quip: &ldquoWell, if it does work, I&rsquoll get to visit Ketterdam.&rdquo
GoPro founder shares how he went from selling shells out of his van to the CEO of a billion-dollar company
To launch his company GoPro, Nick Woodman and his wife scraped together $30,000 in part by selling shell-jewelry and belts out of a VW van in California.
They borrowed another $235,000 from his mother and father.
A decade later, the company went public, and currently GoPro has more than 1,700 employees. The company is worth more than a billion dollars.
"We had very humble beginnings," says Woodman in a live Facebook chat from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.
GoPro has been worth almost 10 times as much as it is now, but shares of the stock fell off dramatically in part because of production problems the company encountered at the end of last year. Woodman, now 41 years old, says GoPro will return to profitability in 2017.
He also says that his success as an entrepreneur is a result of his perseverance and dedication.
"One thing I always tell entrepreneurs is if you can out-passion and out-commit and out-determine your competition," then you will be successful. "For some reason, most humans give up. They just do.
"I think the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who tell themselves, 'I am going to die before I give up on this effort.'"
The way to maintain your effort over the long haul, the CEO believes, is to make sure your project inspires and excites you.
"You have got to be focused on something that you are personally passionate about," says Woodman.
In addition to tenacity, Woodman says part of what allowed him to succeed was his own naivete. He studied visual arts in college, not business.
"I followed my gut, because I didn't know any better," says Woodman. "One of the great benefits of ignorance is just you can create something that hasn't existed before because you didn't know any better."
Fulani gold earrings
The Fulani which are also called the Fula or Fulbe, are well known all over the world for their jewelry crafting. The special super-large gold twist earrings can be up to five inches long and usually is made out of silver or gold.
As is true with most African this specific quickly and thoroughly conveys the wealth and status in the wearer. Traditionally the nomadic Fulani, wear their wealth inside their jewelry. They can carry this using them wherever they go and then easily buy goods from people they meet.