The grain called corn that is grown in the U.S. is Indian corn or maize. It has been cultivated for long before the first Europeans arrived and is now grown in The Corn Belt. But corn also refers any leading cereal crop, such as wheat is England or oats in Scotland and Ireland.
The uses of the corn are abundant. It is the raw material used in ethanol. It is the main feed grain for animals in the U.S. It is ground and made into tamales and tortillas, and it’s also eaten as hominy and grits. And, of course, it is eaten straight off the cob. Yum. CONTINUE READING »
In a world that knows too many details about unimportant matters, one would think that our collective expertise could be certain about something as essential as the days of the week. There is, however, a scholarly debate regarding which goddess of love in Norse mythology is the namesake of “Friday.” To complicate matters, it may be that Frigg (or Frigga) and Freyja were at one point one goddess, or at least stemmed from the same one. It’s a headache.
Here’s a dollop of the facts we know about both divinities.
Frigg is the queen of Asgard, the capital city of the Norse gods. She is a major goddess, and most myths focus on her roles as a wife and mother. Frigg is also said to be prophetic. Like her husband Odin, Frigg sometimes sits in a high seat called Hliðskjálf. From there she can look into other worlds.
Freyja, which is Old Norse for the “Lady,” has many associations, which include fertility, gold, and death. She rides a chariot that is driven by two cats. When she’s not in her chariot, she’s also known to hitch a ride on a boar she owns called Hildisvíni.
Friday is also associated with the planet Venus. In most Romance languages, the word for Friday derives from dies Veneris, which in Latin means “day of Venus.” For example, in Romanian Friday is vineri, and in French it is vendredi.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama visited daytime talk show “The View” and touched on a wide range of topics, including Lindsay Lohan’s prison term. But during a more serious exchange, Obama used a word to describe African-Americans that has its own complex and emotional history: “mongrel.”
The president and the five “View” co-hosts were discussing the recent controversy around Shirley Sherrod and the dilemmas of race in America. Barbara Walters offered this comment and question to President Obama: CONTINUE READING »
You probably expect that we can discover meaning in anything, since all we do is sit around and read the dictionary. Well, here’s a test: can we uncover something meaningful even in the goofiest situation? You be the judge.
Justin Bieber, the 16-year-old pop singer whose charisma results in the pandemonium of screaming teenagers at shopping malls, is a bit of an obsession on Twitter. People who love him, as well as people who love to hate him, post so many messages featuring the heartthrob that he consistently appears on Twitter’s list of the most popular (trending) topics. CONTINUE READING »
Zedonk. Yes, this is for real. ”The offspring of a zebra and a donkey.” Prepare yourself for an even larger dose of absurdity: there are plenty more zany names for unlikely crossbreeds, and we’ve collected a nonsensical herd of them.
We don’t know if the baby zedonk, born in the state of Georgia about a week ago, has a name, but an Associated Press report notes that “donkeys and zebras don’t usually mate, but zedonks turn CONTINUE READING »
Wiki. Don’t you? But have you ever wondered what wiki means?
WikiLeaks has been in the news lately because it released a document that encompasses over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan. Wikileaks is a site that obtains and publishes sensitive material and is designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and activists. CONTINUE READING »
A hypnic jerk is someone you wouldn’t want to share a cab with, right? Actually, it is a feeling that many of us experience nightly.
In “Inception” the dream travelers move from dream to dream via a “kick,” which is like a hypnic jerk. Sleep starts, night starts, or hypnagogic jerks are also names for the feeling of an involuntary myoclonic twitch that happens just as we’re beginning to fall asleep. CONTINUE READING »
Sex, marriage, and the law. Always complicated. That’s why there are so many words to describe how two people (sometimes more) live and love together. Like polygamy.
Do you remember the 2007 arrest of Warren Jeffs, a religious leader and polygamist on charges involving multiple marriages and underage girls? The case, and polygamy, are back in the news. CONTINUE READING »
You can buy yoga mats in grocery stores and take yoga classes at gyms, hospitals, or even malls. It may have originated in India, but yoga is now practiced worldwide through variations of traditional physical and mental disciplines. For some it is a type of medicinal exercise, while for others it is simply a way of chilling out and keeping lean. CONTINUE READING »
The most talked-about wedding of the summer is almost here (July 31st.) But where will Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mevzinsky take their honeymoon? And why is the post-wedding holiday called by that name?