"It is a difficult task to give novelty to what is old, authority to what is new, brilliance to the common-place, light to the obscure, attraction to the stale, credibility to the doubtful, but nature to all things and all her properties to nature." -Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Since this image seems to be getting a lot of hits, I might just mention it is a portable opium scale from Burma. The photo was taken in front of my hotel window in Bangkok.