Word Buzz Wednesday: stochastic terrorism, jinji ido, bomb pulse


Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: words matter, the salaryman shuffle, carbon-dating sharks.

stochastic terrorism

“In other words, what Trump just did is engage in so-called stochastic terrorism.”

David S. Cohen, “Trump’s Assassination Dog Whistle Was Even Scarier Than You Think,” Rolling Stone, August 9, 2016

Stochastic terrorism, says Rolling Stone, is “using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.’” In Donald Trump’s case, he put out the “dog whistle” for Second Amendment-ers to do “something” to stop Hillary Clinton, knowing that some dog will hear although he doesn’t know which.

The word stochastic refers to statistics involving random variables, chance, or probability, and comes from the Greek stokhastēs, “diviner.”


“The bruises are minor—and so is the likely positive impact on performance. Cupping might not be helping Olympic athletes prepare for competition as much as they think.”

Kelsey Kennedy, “Cupping is the latest unproven therapy Olympians have turned to in the hope of winning gold,” Quartz, August 8, 2016

Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicinal practice, says Quartz, used for everything from “coughs to shingles.” Glass cups are placed against the skin, using heat or a pump to create “intense suction.” Hence, the circular bruises sported by the likes of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and actress-cum-Goop-guru Gwyneth Paltrow.

double double

“Bolt is also the first athlete to achieve what’s known as the ‘double double’…which is when an athlete wins both the 100m and 200m titles in back-to-back Olympics, a feat which he accomplished in 2008 and 2012.”

Jeff Smith, “A Brief History of Usain Bolt’s Path to the 2016 Rio Olympics,” Mic, August 13, 2016

Other double doubles include a coffee with two creamers and two sugars, and a double cheeseburger with cheese on each burger.

jinji ido

“No one is safe from the ‘jinji ido’ – some number of bosses, fresh employees, and veterans are all shuffled around every year.”

Scott Wilson, “5 strange Japanese office occurrences,” Japan Today, August 14, 2016

Jinji ido translates from Japanese as “moving people around,” says Japan Today, in which employees are shifted “from department to department.” In a country where people still tend to work for one company their entire lives, jinji ido is a way for “people to develop in their careers and keep from getting stagnant.”

bomb pulse

Bomb pulse signatures are often used in dating marine animals that are about 60 years old or younger, and in this case the readings were indeed proof that the three shark’s small size was an indicator of youth.”

Jeffrey Kluger, “Scientists Discover Sharks That Can Live for 400 Years,” TIME, August 11, 2016

According to TIME, the term bomb pulse refers to a “period of elevated radioactive isotopes [found in organisms] that corresponded with atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s.” Such a marker was found in the eye lenses of those “too young” sharks.