Thursday, November 25, 2010


On this Thanksgiving evening, I am enjoying a detoxifying soak in a big tub filled to the brim with hot water and mugwort (쑥). To replace the liters of sweat that are exiting my body, I'm already on my third Arnold Palmer—there's nothing like Southern sweet tea mixed with fresh-squeezed lemonade to replace those electrolytes (and help wash down mind-boggling quantities of my family's delicious Thanksgiving feast, which consisted of dishes such as turkey and stuffing and honeybaked ham and candied yams, of course, as well as 곰탕 and Korean pumpkin soup).

Incidentally, I'm also wondering why I brought home so many books knowing that I would be studying so little here. Between Niki's antics and Mother's almond-lemon zest madeleines, I'm probably too distracted to start preparing much for finals. On the bright side, I'm finished at last with my final paper for Cinema of Migration (though there's still so much I don't understand about "local ethnicities" and queer theory and Stuart Hall). One last read-through tomorrow morning and then I'll send it in.

On another, more seasonal note: I was wondering today—while deciding between gravy and cranberry sauce—what the turkey is called in Turkey. Probably not the türkiye, right? (Could you imagine a bird called the america?) I could have just called Besi, but I decided to first do some research online. As it turns out, the etymology of this bird's name is quite interesting—at least more interesting than its taste, in my humble opinion.

Below are a few excerpts from The Straight Dope's article on this issue:
Despite several crackpot theories to the contrary, the bird was named after the country, but in a very roundabout way so that the details are uncertain. Oh, one other thing I know for sure: No European should ever have been allowed to name any New World species. The Aztecs, who kept domesticated turkeys for hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived, had a perfectly good word for the bird in their Nahuatl language: xuehxolotl, which, of course, is pronounced. Don't ask me how it's pronounced, but I'm sure it can be done. If the Europeans had been smart enough to stick with the original name, there would have been no need for me to write this Staff Report, and on Thanksgiving we'd sit down to "xuehxolotl with all the trimmings."  Oh, the things that might have been. 
It's likely the first bird called "turkey" in English wasn't the familiar Thanksgiving fowl (Meleagris gallopavo), but a smaller domesticated bird originally from sub-Saharan Africa: (Numida meleagris), which we now call the Guinea fowl. This bird was introduced to the Mediterranean in ancient times and was known (as a rarity) to the Greeks and Romans. It was named after the mythical Meliagrides, who were the sisters of Meleager and who were turned to birds after his death. This bird seems to have disappeared from Europe and was reintroduced from west Africa by Portuguese traders at the end of the fifteenth century. If this bird was from Africa, why was it called "turkey" in English? Probably because it was introduced to England by so-called "Turkey merchants" who traded with the Mediterranean region, including the Ottoman Empire (which then controlled the eastern third of that sea). 
M. gallopavo was introduced to Spain from America sometime between 1498 and 1526 (but most likely before 1511), and thence to England sometime between 1520 and 1541 (but probably before 1530). It too was named "turkey" in English, perhaps because it was confused with N. meleagris, or because it was likewise introduced by Turkey merchants. In citations from the Oxford English Dictionary, "turkey" dates from 1541, but it is unclear which species is meant. 
English is not the only language that incorrectly associates the turkey with Turkey. Welsh borrowed the English usage and calls the bird twrki. But it is interesting that many other languages incorrectly associate the bird with other countries. In many languages (including Turkish and French), the bird is called by names indicating it's from India. This may derive from the confusion between the East Indies and West Indies that was rampant in those days. In fact, one of the early Spanish names, gallina de las Indias, means "hen of the Indies." But other languages (such as Dutch and Danish) are strangely specific in calling the bird by names indicating the bird is from the Indian city of Calicut. At that time, Calicut was the most important city for the trade between Europe and India. So it would not have been unreasonable for Western Europeans to assume that anything exotic came from Calicut, or more generally, from India. 
In Portuguese, the bird is called peru, despite the fact that the bird was not introduced to Peru until after the Spanish conquest. The most reasonable explanation for the association is that the bird became popular in Portugal shortly after Pizarro conquered Peru in 1532, and the Portuguese made a natural assumption. In Brazilian slang, peru can also means "penis," which must make life interesting along the Brazil-Peru border. One word for the bird in one of the several dialects of Hindi is also peru or piru, which is probably borrowed from Portuguese. That makes sense, since the turkey was introduced to India by the Portuguese (sometime before 1612). 
Lest you think the scientific name of the turkey makes more sense than the common ones, it is my duty to inform you that it is perhaps even more messed up. Meleagris gallopavo is composed of the names of three different birds, none of them the turkey. Meleagris was the ancient Greek name of the Guinea fowl (mentioned above). For hundreds of years, European naturalists believed the turkey was a kind of Guinea fowl, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Gallopavo was one of the early Spanish names for the turkey (often spelled gallipavo). Gallo- comes from gallus, the Latin word for the common barnyard fowl (chicken), Gallus domesticus. And -pavo comes from Latin word for the blue peacock, whose scientific name is Pavo cristatus
I think it's fascinating that the etymology of this strange-looking bird's name can serve as a linguistic window into colonial trade and cultural preconceptions—beyond the examples cited above, many other languages attribute the turkey's origins to a country or region considered particularly exotic in that culture. For instance:
  • In Arabic, it is called dīk rūmī (ديك رومي) meaning “Roman rooster” (in which “Roman” historically referred to the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire and later to the geographic areas that now comprise Turkey), or, less commonly, “Ethiopian bird”.
  • In colloquial Egyptian Arabic, it is called the “Greek bird”.
  • In French, it is called (la) dinde, which comes from (poulet) d’Inde or (chicken) from India.
  • In Greek, it is gallopoúla (γαλοπούλα), which means “French chicken”.
  •  In Hebrew, the turkey is called tarnegol hodu (תרנגול הודו), literally meaning “Indian rooster”.
  • In Malay, it is called either “Ayam Piru” from the Portuguese name for the bird or “Ayam Belanda” (Dutch chicken).
  • In Russian, it is called indeyka (индейка), relating to the Native American Indian (индеец).
  • In Vietnamese, it is called gà tây, meaning “Western chicken”.

Pretty cool, right? (Or maybe I'm just a huge dork.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Business Sphere Magazine - Fall 2010

In this issue of Business Sphere, our writers address the complexity of business from a student perspective as it relates to a wide variety of popular news. Business Sphere aims to serve as a platform for increasing awareness of and interest in the far-ranging implications of business in social, economic, legal and political arenas.

Amid the uneven recovery from the global economic downturn, it is clear that innovation and entrepreneurship are more important today than ever before. This issue of BSM contains an exclusive interview with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, whose ideas have revolutionized social networking around the world. You will also hear from Solar Roadways CEO Scott Brusaw, who aspires to transform America’s roads into a source of renewable energy. In other featured articles, Yale students talk about their experiences in fields ranging from college start-ups in New Haven to non-profit work in Haiti.

I would like to extend a warm thank-you to the editorial and design teams for their tireless efforts, without which this publication would not have been possible. Special thanks go to the Yale Undergraduate Business Society for its continued support and collaboration. We hope for continued success and expansion throughout the year!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Getting to LaGuardia by 5:00 am has been a bit of an ordeal: after completing a trickier than expected problem set for First-Order Logic, I had about 30 minutes to shower, pack and call a cab to Union Station. Fortunately, being away from home for seven years has taught me to travel lightly—thanks to a collection of necessities at home*, there was little need for me to pack more than my laptop, a few books, my favorite jeans and an extra pair of shoes, which conveniently fit into a small black carry-on. (I'm also taking home a few pairs of shorts and three summery polo shirts, which, tragically, will not be required in New England until mid-May.)

*I've found it efficient to keep at home an abridged but sufficient wardrobe of basics—enough to wear for a week or two during most of the year—in order to avoid hauling back everything from socks to underwear to that cool tee that would be nice to wear during break but could probably stay at school. Dear boarding school/college student/anyone else who travels home regularly, if you're not already doing it, it's worth the few extra bucks. Seriously, there is no need for your socks to rack up frequent flier miles.

After shoving everything into my carry-on, I found my cab downstairs and made it to Union Station in time to catch 11:38 pm train. The train arrived at Grand Central around 1:30 am, leaving with enough time to purchase and have one bite out of the worst potato knish I've ever tasted. I then found out that the $9 Grand Central-LaGuardia airport shuttle I had planned to take doesn't operate at night, requiring me to adjust my plans.

Figuring that I still had a few hours to burn, I decided to take the 7 to a bus terminal in Queens near the airport. While waiting for the bus to arrive, I noticed a sign across the street that read "清기와 Korean Restaurant." What really made my face light up was the accompanying "Open 24 hours" indication. Walking in, I was greeted by a friendly pair of Korean ajummas who quickly brought over a cup of barley tea and a decent spread of banchan. Despite knowing that I would be enjoying amazing home-cooked Korean food later that day, it was hard to resist digging in. (My main order, sundubu jjigae (spicy tofu stew), wasn't anything special. But hey, when I'm getting that much red pepper at 3 am in an unfamiliar neighborhood of Queens, I'm not too picky.) Incidentally, being the only customer at that hour, I had a very engaging conversation with one of the ajummas about her living as a recent immigrant in such an ethnically diverse part of town. Professor Syrimis would have been proud.

Around 3:30, I crossed the street and hopped on the bus headed to LaGuardia, not realizing that there is a miniature rush hour of airport staff, flight crew and TSA personnel in the neighborhood around the airport at that time. As a result of stopping so many times to pick up more commuters, what would have normally been a 10-minute drive took over half an hour. (Not that I minded—it was actually kind of interesting to watch airport employees interact with each other outside of the grind of the airport, and arriving at the airport sooner would have just meant more time sitting in front of the flight gate.)

I also found out that LaGuardia's security line opens at precisely 4:30 am—I just spent about 25 minutes in the security line with other early morning travelers being stared at by (and having nothing to do but stare back at) uniformed TSA employees who, despite being fully prepared, are not allowed to let anyone through the security checkpoint before 4:30.

And thus supremely sleep-deprived, here I am, sitting in front of my gate in Terminal A. I do find it somewhat strange that traveling the 67 miles between New Haven and New York has taken longer than my flight to Houston will take. But at any rate, there is now only one mode of mechanized transportation between me and balmy, Texas-blue skies. Definitely reason to give thanks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 Days

...until Thanksgiving!

As much as I love Yale, the past few weeks have been a frenzied whirlwind of academic assignments and evaluations, extracurricular obligations*, company presentations/info sessions** and time-sensitive soul-searching***. I'll have a much-needed break when I fly home Saturday, and I couldn't be more excited.

This does mean that I'll be missing The Game, but it's away this year, and as you might have guessed, I'm not terribly upset that I won't be passing out on the floor of some common room in Cambridge. Besides, Harvard's men may fight to the end, but Yalies get the whole week off for Thanksgiving.

*Editing and designing the Fall 2010 issue of Business Sphere magazine has consumed an inordinate amount of time over the past couple weeks (mostly because I've never used InDesign before and am teaching it to myself through a process of trial-and-error). But it's almost done! (I'll post a copy online soon.)

**November: the beginning of the feeding frenzy that is the series of the almost daily company presentations (i.e. consulting firms and investment banks) and other career events.

***Newsflash: I'm not sure what I want to do for the rest of my life. Perhaps this decision should be made by popular vote—text 1 for law school, 2 for finance, 3 for consulting, 4 for a start-up or 5 for sailing around the world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kafka: Kleine Fabel

„Ach“, sagte die Maus, „die Welt wird enger mit jedem Tag. Zuerst war sie so breit, dass ich Angst hatte, ich lief weiter und war glück­lich, dass ich endlich rechts und links in der Ferne Mauern sah, aber diese langen Mauern eilen so schnell aufeinander zu, dass ich schon im letzten Zimmer bin, und dort im Winkel steht die Falle, in die ich laufe“. „Du musst nur die Lauf­richtung ändern“, sagte die Katze und fraß sie. 
("Alas," said the mouse, "the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into." "You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.)


According to the latest population estimates by Business First, Houston's metropolitan population is now 6,063,453 (and still growing with one the nation's strongest growth rates). Huzzah!

The New York City area tops the list (19,175,912) and is followed by Los Angeles (12,945,645) and Chicago (9,656,846).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Haven Eyes

새롭지는 않지만...