For the first March ever, Ithaca is not facing Second Winter. Thanks to global warming and fossil fuel burning, the weather has picked up to the forties and fifties and shows no signs of slowing down. Parkas and scarves have been replaced by sundresses and bro-tanks (though we should have outgrown the latter after seventh grade). Despite this God-given luxury ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, Cornell won’t get on board.
Your life changes the day you realize that “sweetmeats” are actually pastries, “mincemeat” can refer to dried fruit cooked into a pie and ordering a plate of “sweetbreads” will get you a tasty calf pancreas. Misnomers like these just make you trust the world a little bit less. So, you can imagine how distraught I was to learn that corned beef has literally nothing to do with the yellow vegetable that grows on stalks. Well … almost nothing.
“Corn” as we know it in Modern English has a rich etymology dating back to the Proto-Germanic kurnam, meaning “small seed.” This creates an obvious connection to the corn that we eat grilled with butter; what are kernels if not hundreds of small seeds lined up in a row? But Old English used the word corn much how we use “grain” today — that is to say, corn referred to the overarching category of small, granular cereals rather than to any specific plant.
It took us until we got about five minutes outside of Los Angeles to bring up the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference. Of course, Las Vegas looks nothing like it did when Hunter S. Thompson visited there in 1971. Following an almost five-hour drive past the occasional cluster of homes, a solar powered-energy plant and one large rest stop occupied almost entirely with fast food chains, arriving in Las Vegas gave mirage a new meaning.