The "Historically Rich" game

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Jennifer
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 19 Jul 2019, 17:25

I checked linen thread -- still used in Mesopotamia to sew bolts of cloth into garments, or string beads together into a necklace -- but even that's pretty pricey today (in the sense that $50 won't get you THAT much). Ignoring thread color, the first item I found in an Amazon search was $5.23 for a spool of 125 yards of thread. (And if you actually did bring it back in time, you'd first have to go through the bother of unrolling all that thread from its plastic spool, and re-wrapping it around a twig or whatever ancient thread-sellers used to store their wares.)
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 19 Jul 2019, 20:44

It would be easier if you go only as far as the mid to late Roman Empire: salt of course, and pepper (salt is not included in the "spices" category because pepper and spices are merely for flavoring, whereas salt is an actual biological necessity with many uses beyond altering the taste of food), some clear glassware (not the kind that is obviously pressed or molded glass, though; thin-blown only IIRC); various glazed ceramics, gemstones and/or cultured pearls. Definitely max out your $50 allowance on olive oil, and raisins also were extremely valuable in ancient Rome -- although I think seedless raisins were anachronisms, and I'd guess raisins with seeds are less commonplace and more expensive than seedless these days.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 28 Aug 2019, 16:28

Related thought -- not specifically "modern cheap or worthless stuff that would've been valuable back then AND would not have been an obvious anachronism," merely "modern stuff that is cheap or worthless, but would've been valuable back then, anachronisms be damned": I belong (but don't contribute pictures) to a Facebook group where people post photos of weird, cool or unusual secondhand finds -- either to show off, or to ask "Hey, does anyone know what this is?"

Someone posted a picture recently (with a caption/explanation that she found this in a cleanout of the home of someone with "hoarderish tendencies"): a Ziploc bag with the masking-tape label "2013 lint." And several people pointed out that, while dating it might be weird, it's not that unusual for people to save limited amounts of dryer lint for firestarters. (I recently read a frugal-tips list suggesting that for backyard firepits, campfires and the like, dryer lint stuffed into empty cardboard toilet-paper rolls made an easy DIY option.)

If you change the rules of acquisition a bit -- not "cheap or worthless stuff today that could blend in and sell for a fortune then," but "completely worthless stuff including literal garbage today that people back then would've found at least useful, if not valuable--" if you had to make an actual list, it would be quicker and easier to list today's garbage, junk or ultracheap thrift-store items that wouldn't make the list somehow.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jadagul » 28 Aug 2019, 17:42

Hell, I'm pretty sure dryer lint would be really useful for making paper, too.

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Ellie » 28 Aug 2019, 17:53

Jadagul wrote:
28 Aug 2019, 17:42
Hell, I'm pretty sure dryer lint would be really useful for making paper, too.
I did that as a Girl Scout project! :geek:
Jennifer wrote:
28 Aug 2019, 16:28
"completely worthless stuff including literal garbage today that people back then would've found at least useful, if not valuable--" if you had to make an actual list, it would be quicker and easier to list today's garbage, junk or ultracheap thrift-store items that wouldn't make the list somehow.
Further proof that even a shit life in the modern day still contains innumerable riches compared to living in the past.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Warren » 28 Aug 2019, 22:19

So what you're saying is, the hoarders are right.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 28 Aug 2019, 23:43

Warren wrote:
28 Aug 2019, 22:19
So what you're saying is, the hoarders are right.
In all seriousness, I have wondered before if hoarding (at least "safe-stuff hoarding," not the more severe cases such as "That guy saves all of his own body waste and anything with his DNA on it in jars") might not be psychological "disorders" [in the sense of "something that's gone entirely wrong"] so much as "too much -- way too much -- of a good thing." It's only extremely recently in historical terms -- the last few generations out of the thousands since modern man first arose -- that there's been enough stuff available for most people to have the option to become hoarders in the first place. And even now -- and especially for most of humanity's time on earth -- some tendency toward thrift rather than wastefulness is genuinely useful and even necessary (how much is necessary for a given person depends on the individual's circumstances, of course) ... but at a certain point, such tendencies stop being helpful and become harmful instead.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by JD » 29 Aug 2019, 10:20

Ellie wrote:
28 Aug 2019, 17:53
Further proof that even a shit life in the modern day still contains innumerable riches compared to living in the past.
It's something I think about whenever I see one of those stories about a country where many people still live in what is literally a dump and make a living as trash-pickers. (cf https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/20 ... age-dumps/) I think that as a society becomes richer, that kind of thing becomes less common because what you could possibly earn as a trash-picker is minimal compared to what you could earn doing virtually anything else. But then I also wonder if, as society gets richer, could it become more common again because people throw away even more valuable stuff. And it looks like that might be true:
One of Zuckerberg's neighbors, a military veteran named Jake Orta, has been earning money selling items he found in the trash bins outside of the CEO's $10 million home. During an interview with the New York Times, Orta described how amazed he was at what people tended to throw away.

Items he found in Zuckerberg's trash included a vacuum cleaner, a coffee machine and a hair dryer -- all in working condition. On other hunts, he's managed to find more expensive items including designer jeans, Nike shoes, iPads and bicycles. Orta then sells these items, hoping to bring himself the minimum of $30 per day he needs for survival.
https://www.komando.com/happening-now/5 ... ires-trash
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Ellie » 29 Aug 2019, 10:54

I've had a lifelong secret desire to be a dumpster diver but I'm too afraid of getting arrested over it. I placate this crushed dream by following a lot of dumpster diver reddits etc. It's definitely true that as society gets richer, more people can at least partially support themselves trash picking (if not by selling on the items, then using them for themselves).

Moveout week at college campuses is apparently the Super Bowl of dumpster diving. Kids not wanting to haul stuff home throw out IMMENSE amounts of perfectly good shit.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Ellie » 29 Aug 2019, 10:55

Also, barely related but I feel like posting it:

Image
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Warren » 29 Aug 2019, 11:05

A few weeks ago a relative of mine posted on facebook. Seems one of her neighbors set a complete dining room set (table and chairs) out at the curb on trash day. She posted "If you need a dining room set get to 123 4th street before the garbage truck comes and hauls it away. I know these people and they take care of their stuff". I asked "Don't you have Craigslist?"
Her: We do but I was on my way to work and just saw that and wanted to post before it got picked up.
Me: I was more wondering why your neighbors threw it out. Even if they don't want money, there's Goodwill, SA, etc.
Her: I was wondering that too. Places pick up even.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 29 Aug 2019, 16:31

Warren wrote:
29 Aug 2019, 11:05
Me: I was more wondering why your neighbors threw it out. Even if they don't want money, there's Goodwill, SA, etc.
Her: I was wondering that too. Places pick up even.
Possible answers: one, depending on where she lives, even various thrift stores in certain regions are getting more particular about what sort of donations they'll accept. (The Salvation Army stores in the Atlanta region must be incredibly picky about accepting furniture: every such offering I've seen was of vastly higher quality than what I'd call the "norm" for thrift store furniture. Looks more like an antique store than a thrift store, if you know what I mean.)

Two: even if free thrift-store pickup of her goods is available where she lives, from her perspective it's likely quicker and more convenient to just put things on the curb rather than stay home and wait for the furniture pickup guys.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Mo » 29 Aug 2019, 17:50

Ellie wrote:I've had a lifelong secret desire to be a dumpster diver but I'm too afraid of getting arrested over it. I placate this crushed dream by following a lot of dumpster diver reddits etc. It's definitely true that as society gets richer, more people can at least partially support themselves trash picking (if not by selling on the items, then using them for themselves).

Moveout week at college campuses is apparently the Super Bowl of dumpster diving. Kids not wanting to haul stuff home throw out IMMENSE amounts of perfectly good shit.
Yeah. I met some folks who were dumpster diving when I was moving out at ND. Nice couple. I had them pull out by my grad dorm and just let them have their pick. The most memorable part was they were going to use my yoga mat for Lamaze.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Painboy » 30 Sep 2019, 21:26

If you were wondering how you might communicate on your trip to the past this might be of interest.

How Far Back in Time Could an English Speaker Go and Still Communicate Effectively?

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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by JD » 25 Oct 2019, 15:55

On a related note, here's an interesting factoid: the screwdriver is the only simple hand tool to be created in the last thousand years. Screws and bolts of various sorts have existed for a long time, but screwdrivers didn't become a practical tool until screws could be mass-produced consistently and profitably.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Warren » 25 Oct 2019, 17:12

JD wrote:
25 Oct 2019, 15:55
the screwdriver is the only simple hand tool to be created in the last thousand years.
ORLY? Link me to the archeological dig where they unearthed 1000+ yo meat claws.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Eric the .5b » 25 Oct 2019, 18:24

The earliest historical mentions of the bagh nakh go back to the 1600s, though you're supposed to use those on another kind of meat. I suspect another version might be older, but I can't immediately find one.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 29 Oct 2019, 05:31

A local science museum has a temporary exhibit on "Traveling the Silk Road," which included re-creations of various ancient marketplaces and stops along the way. If you ignore the $50-per-category limit and focus just on the $1,000 total, you could easily buy everything I saw in that marketplace, except for the rubies, sapphires, furs and bolts of silk: spices, gemstones currently deemed "semiprecious" rather than "precious," certain types of glassware (assuming thrift-store rather than retail prices), and peacock feathers (this website sells peacock feathers in bulk: for tailfeathers with "eyes," you can get 50 for $20, or 1,000 for $301).
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Warren » 29 Oct 2019, 10:22

Jennifer wrote:
29 Oct 2019, 05:31
A local science museum has a temporary exhibit on "Traveling the Silk Road," which included re-creations of various ancient marketplaces and stops along the way. If you ignore the $50-per-category limit and focus just on the $1,000 total, you could easily buy everything I saw in that marketplace, except for the rubies, sapphires, furs and bolts of silk: spices, gemstones currently deemed "semiprecious" rather than "precious," certain types of glassware (assuming thrift-store rather than retail prices), and peacock feathers (this website sells peacock feathers in bulk: for tailfeathers with "eyes," you can get 50 for $20, or 1,000 for $301).
Yeah, the Silk Road is going to have everything and at wholesale prices. The thing about a Silk Road market is that the weapons guys are where the money's at. True in Marco's time, true today.
I not sure what kind of firearm you can get for under a grand, but that and a handful of ammo would buy the whole road.
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Re: The "Historically Rich" game

Post by Jennifer » 30 Oct 2019, 18:16

I had never thought to add "peacock tailfeathers" (or unusually attractive feathers in general) to any list of "$50 or less worth of items you take back in time where they're immensely valuable," but apparently they are! In retrospect it does make sense when you think about it.
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