Is this really a Roman mosaic of a pineapple?

Roman Mosaic 1 by mharrsch
Roman Mosaic 1, a photo by mharrsch on Flickr.

Originally from the environs of the Villa Rufinella. Is it legit? And if truly ancient Roman, what is that in the upper right hand corner if not a pineapple?

LATER: I should add that I was pointed in the direction of that mosaic by a long, but fascinating, talk on “Mapping the Ancient Environment: The Contribution of Manuscripts and Texts,” which in turn came to me thanks to a tweet from @mem_somerville.

Keeping an eye on the big playas

To find out what mainstream agriculture is up to, you have to follow mainstream media outlets, and some of those are behind a paywall much of the time. So I’m glad that both Kay McDonald at Big Picture Agriculture and Thomas Barnett at Globlogization subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. From Big Picture Agriculture we learn that yesterday, World Food Day, the WSJ devoted a lot of space to Innovations in Agriculture. There’s a lot there to pore over. And both Kay and Tom go large on the WSJ’s report on no-till farming, largely as a response to high energy costs.

Also for World Food Day, Kay shares this little insight into professional doomsayers:

Lester Brown must be astonished that there are 130 million fewer hungry people now than there were 20 years ago even though we have over 1.5 billion more people to feed. But, undaunted, this week he continues to warn that we will soon be running out of food. One of these years he’ll be right, but I doubt that it’ll be this next year. His logic makes sense and grabs headlines around the world’s leading news publications except he lacks one element in his analysis and that is the economics of supply and demand for food production. Food commodity prices are high right now and the whole world is responding, anxious to cash in on some profits.

To which I, an unprofessional doomsayer, would like to add only that there are limits to productivity, even if mainstream economists don’t always recognise them.

Abusing my position on Kasalath rice

OK, so we don’t have the clout or industry standing of The Financial Express, of Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box 2526 Dhaka–1000, Bangladesh. But we have our pride.

So when we saw this paragraph in a major outburst of nationalistic pride concerning Kasalath rice

Well, we were just a tad peeved.

I went online and fired off a very polite Letter to the Editor.

In your article BD gets IRRI recognition as origin country of rice variety Kasalath you describe the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog as “an IRRI blog”. As part-owner of that blog, I can assure you this is wrong. Please issue a correction and edit to state “Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, an independent blog”.

I look forward to your swift response.

Except that online security at The Financial Express leaves a little to be desired. Having told me to type the characters I saw into the box, it failed actually to display any characters. Nothing daunted, I found an actual email for the actual editor, and sent him the same message, with a PS alerting him to the problem with his security.

Back, snappy as anything, came an email, requiring me to reply in order to pass their stringent security checks. I did so. Back came another email, which I reproduce in its entirety.

Since then, not a word. Not one. After two whole weeks, the erroneous statement stands, an affront to our puffed-up sense of self-importance.

What to conclude? It isn’t as if we object to being associated with IRRI, just that, well, we aren’t.

Just as Kasalath isn’t actually a Bangladeshi rice. It’s just a rice that grows on land in that country, and some other countries.