8.26.2011

What Are Baby Corn And Baby Carrots?

While making stir-fry the other day, I got a little curious about what I was eating. As it turns out, both baby corn and baby carrots have very appropriate names! They are baby-versions of the full-grown vegetables of the same names. Read on for more information:

Baby Corn:
Baby corn is cereal grain taken from corn (maize) harvested early while the ears are very small and immature. Baby corn ears are hand-picked from the branches as soon as the corn silks emerge from the ear tips, or a few days after. Baby corn typically is eaten whole, cob included, in contrast to mature corn, whose cob is considered too tough for human consumption.

Baby Carrots:
A "true" baby carrot is a carrot grown to the "baby stage", which is to say long before the root reaches its mature size. The test is that you can see a proper "shoulder" on each carrot. They are also sometimes harvested simply as the result of crop thinning, but are also grown to this size as a specialty crop.

"Manufactured" baby carrots, or cut and peel (what you see most often in the shops) are carrot-shaped slices of peeled carrots invented in the late 1980s by Mike Yurosek, a California farmer, as a way of making use of carrots which are too twisted or knobbly for sale as full-size carrots.


8.25.2011

What Is Couture?

Anyone who has watched "Project Runway" has heard the word "couture" thrown around a lot. But what does it mean?

1. The business of designing, making, and selling highly fashionable, usually custom-made clothing for women.
2. The high-fashion clothing created by designers.

Generally, it seems like if a garment is high-fashion (and maybe somewhat over-the-top), then it's couture. But being "high fashion" isn't the only main point of "couture", it's also the fact that it's "designed" and "made".

Actually, the origin of the word comes from Old French/Latin words meaning "sewn together" or "to sew". When people say "couture", they probably mean "Haute Couture" which means "elegant sewing". In the fashion industry, Haute Couture is a big deal - you can't call yourself a couture designer without being approved by the French Department of Industry.

So it seems that the true definition of couture is more equal parts:
1. Highly fashionable
2. Hand sewn and well made
3. Custom-designed for a specific customer (thus likely one-of-a-kind)
And it typically is:
4. Made of expensive material
5. Involves many hours of detailed hand-sewing (instead of machine-sewing)

Examples:

Couture:
1. High fashion - check!
2. Hand sewn - check!
3. Custom-made for a customer - check!
Not Couture:
1. High fashion - check!
2. Hand sewn - maybe check?
3. Custom-made for a customer - NOPE!

8.24.2011

Red Panda Name Origin

I actually learned this facts from The Detroit Zoo!

My family went recently and became obsessed with the Red Panda. Let me show you why:


So cute. Since they are small and more raccoon-like than bear-like, I wondered how they was related to a Panda Bear. Turns out, they aren't!

"Panda" in Japanese means "bamboo eater". Since that's the main source of food for the Red Panda, that's how it got it's name, in the same way the Panda Bear got it's name.

Maybe since they aren't "bears", we can get one as a pet? These people did (click here)!

Man, I want one so badly. :)

8.23.2011

Bribery vs. Extortion vs. Blackmail

While we're on the crime topic, I wondered what are the specific differences between bribery, extortion, and blackmail. Here are the definitions:
Bribery: "The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties."

If you want a public or legal official to do something illegal or lie for you, you can offer them money or pay them to do it.

Extortion: "The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right."

Extortion then is taking property (usually money) from someone by threatening them or pretending it's your legal right (as a government official, police officer, etc).

Blackmail: "The crime involving a threat for purposes of compelling a person to do an act against his or her will, or for purposes of taking the person's money or property."

And blackmail is when you threaten someone enough for them to feel they have to pay you or do something in order for you not to carry out the threat.
So, they all involve some sort of deception or threat in order for a criminal to get what s/he wants from another person, they just all accomplish that in their own ways.


8.22.2011

What Is Racketeering?

After the 10th time I heard someone on a TV crime show get arrested for "racketeering" I finally looked up what it meant. Thought you might want to know, too!

One of the reasons it's hard to tell by context clues what racketeering is is because it actually is a pretty vague term involving all sorts of organized crime. The root of the word is "racket", which is an illegal business. Taking part in an illegal business is called "racketeering".

But what makes a business illegal? All sorts of things! Bribery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, extortion, obstruction of justice, money laundering, trafficking of stolen goods, etc etc etc.

So I think what makes a crime "racketeering" is that it's attached to a business, and it's typically part of an organized crime ring. The term was first used in 1927 to refer to the criminal acts of the Chicago Teamsters union.