Word Buzz Wednesday: bow shock, bloody code, Trump cards

Massive Star Makes Waves

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: what Jupiter sounds like; a ridiculously bloody code; playing the Miss Universe game.

bow shock

“On June 24, Juno crossed what’s known as the ‘bow shock’ separating the part of space dominated by solar wind streaming from the sun into the part of the solar system dominated by Jupiter’s magnetic environment.”

Miriam Kramer, “Listen to this: The sounds of Jupiter,” Mashable, June 30, 2016

Earlier this week NASA’s Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit after having traversed the bow shock, which is “is analogous to a sonic boom.”

Obama eight

“There were eight of us granted clemency on that day. They call us the Obama Eight.”

Amy McCarthy and Jason Hernandez, “Life After Life,” Texas Monthly, June 2, 2016

The Obama eight are eight federal inmates who had been sentenced to life without parole for nonviolent offenses — such as drug dealing — and who were granted clemency in late 2013 by President Obama in light of an ACLU report that “detailed the harsh realities” for such prisoners.

bloody code

“Public punishments reached a peak in the United Kingdom in the 18th century under the ‘bloody code,’ which listed over 200 crimes punishable by public execution.”

Jessie Guy-Ryan, “In the UK, It’s Still Legal to Place People in the Stocks,” Atlas Obscura, July 2, 2016

The bloody code was established in 1723 by the Waltham Black Act, making over 200 offenses, many of them petty, punishable by death.

How did such a code come to be? At the time, the ruling class of Britain were landowners, says The National Archives, who “based their power on property-ownership, and saw the law’s main purpose as protecting property.” While crime rate wasn’t high, they feared it would be, between growing populations and lack of police force. The bloody code was established as a threat to deter anyone from committing even the smallest of crimes.

Trump card

“From 2005 until Donald Trump sold the pageant last year, the billionaire quietly handpicked as many as six semifinalists—‘Trump cards,’ they were called—an alleged response to the 2004 snubbing of Miss Ukraine, Oleksandra Nikolayenko, a particular favorite of Mr. Trump.”

Burt Helm, “Mr. Miss Universe: Meet Jeff Lee, Professional Beautiful-Woman Coach,” GQ, June 1, 2016

The original meaning of trump card is “a card in the trump suit, held in reserve for winning a trick.” The trump suit is the suit that outranks all the others for the duration of a hand. Trump card also has the figurative meaning of “a key resource to be used at an opportune moment.”

Besides Trump card, other Miss Universe lingo includes Missólogo, Spanish for “Miss Universe-ologist,” and sash factor, in which “contestants from rich, established franchises like Miss U.S.A. can take out-there risks like being 5’6″,” while “rinky-dink programs like Malaysia’s must play by the rules.”

straw purchase

“Another bill that will now be law is an attempt to limit straw purchasing.”

Taylor Torregano, “Locals respond to the new bills Governor Brown has signed,” KRCR News, July 1, 2016

A straw purchase is an illegal act in which someone who can’t purchase a gun gets someone else to purchase it for them. The term might come from straw man, someone who’s set up as a cover “for a questionable enterprise.”