CLOSE
Original image

Pop annotations: "Show Stopper" by Danity Kane

Original image

While most of us sneak peeks at the footnotes while trying to decipher baffling classics like Finnegan's Wake, we seem to do fine without expertly-annotated copies of In Style. Truth is, we don't know what we're missing. To remedy that, there's Pop Annotations, our weekly column exposing profundities lurking below the surface of today's hit songs. This week we tackle newly-minted supergroup Danity Kane's new single, "Show Stopper."

We in the car, we ride slow
We doin' things that the girls don't do1
The boys stare, we smile back
All my girls in the rainbow Cadillacs, yeah!2

1. In a subculture where the ample-booty'd are treated like fleshy fashion accessories, could this be hip-hop's long-awaited rallying cry to feminism; Danity Kane nothing less than a pop-lockin' quintet of fly Betty Friedans?
2. Despite the connotations here, DK are apparently not lesbians.

Showstoppin' at the latest spot3
The ride shinin' with the open top
Hydraulics make our heads go nod
Hair blowin' in the breeze
Yo, we superstars!4

frankenstein.jpg

3. The band's latest spot, according to Billboard, was #1 on the album charts -- not bad for a group Frankensteined into existence by rap impresario Sean "Puffy "˜P. Diddy'" Combs, who discovered them on his reality show Making the Band. DK was assembled from the reanimated corpses of Salt "˜n' Pepa, En Vogue and Destiny's Child. Professors of Victorian literature predict it's only a matter of time before the girls turn on their creator and eat Diddy.
4. "Yo" is the name of a deity worshipped by the Bambara tribe of Mali, who believe the universe began and will end with the sound "yo!" "Superstar" refers to the prevailing cosmological paradigm explaining the origin of the universe, in which a tremendously dense and hot supermass (or "superstar") existed for a brief time, 13.7 billion years ago, before it expanded into what we today refer to as "everything." Therefore, the Big Bang sounded something like this.

Put in the keys, make that engine purr
Three in the back, one in the passenger
Slow-creepin' cause we look that fly
All the boys tryn'a taste our candy ride5

Icecream.jpg

5. Champion racehorse Candy Ride would indeed be difficult for the boys to taste, not only because he is exceedingly fast "“ running a mile in just 1:31.01 "“ but thanks also to American taboos re: the consumption of horseflesh. Such taboos, however, don't exist in Japan, where the boys might sample some Candy Ride-flavored ice cream (gag -- pictured).

[Chorus]
Bet you ain't never seen (hey!)
Chicks ridin this clean (hey!)
Louis Vuitton seats (oh, oh, oh!)6
We do it deadly7
That's how we keep it poppin' (hey!)
Make sure the bass knockin' (hey!)
So when you see us ridin' (oh, oh, oh!)
We call it Show Stoppin'

6. French luggage-maker Louis Vuitton, who would be 185 this year if he hadn't died in the 19th century, can lay claim to having founded the world's first designer label. As a device originally meant to combat counterfeiting, the Vuitton monogram has been a colossal failure: these days, just over 1% of "Vuitton"-branded items are not counterfeit.
7. Diddy knows deadly: in 1991, a judge ruled him 50% responsible for the deaths of nine people at a concert he promoted, at which he had blocked all exits with heavy tables so that fans without tickets wouldn't be able to sneak inside. But as the third law of Peediddydynamics states, "if the ticketless can't get in, the ticketed can't get out" "“ a stampede did the rest.

We sittin' on 22s plus 28
Mink bucket seats, neon blue9
Color-coordinate with them shoes
Yeah, we divas but we ride like big boys do

8. That is, 24-inch wheel rims. ("We sittin' on 48s divided by the cube root of 16s" just didn't have the same ring to it.)
9. Didn't they just say the seats were Vuitton leather?

Black-tinted with a white stripe interstate
Lookin' in the mirror at my Bad Boy fitted, yup10
Show stoppin' till they lose they breath
Turn the wheel to the right
Turn the wheel to the left

10. "Bad Boy" being Diddy's record label, Bad Boy Records; "fitted" being a hat. Diddy, remember, is also a fashion designer, and so understands the hidden relationship between hats and record albums: when people buy either of them, Diddy gets paid.

This is for my ladies in the 280 Mercedes
In the H3, Baby Ranges, Bentley Coupes, Escalades
Break 'em off somethin' proppa like a real show stoppa11
This is for chicas with the Beemers, A6's
"˜67 Chevy, Maserati, or a Lexus

brass_knucks.jpg

11. According to the Dictionary of Fringe English, to break off means "to freely or gratuitously give something (to someone), especially money or something highly prized; in the form break (someone) off a piece, to give or receive sexual favors." While breakin' someone off a piece in the latter sense would undoubtedly be a show-stoppa "“ especially while riding clean in, say, a Baby Range "“ I don't think this is something that hip-hop's most outspoken feminists meant to imply. Therefore, they must be giving away cars like Oprah; hook a blogga up, ladiez!

arrow
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
A Chinese Museum Is Offering Cash to Whoever Can Decipher These 3000-Year-Old Inscriptions

During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia. But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking member of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

The museum began farming out their oracle bone translation efforts in Fall 2016. The costly ongoing project has hit a stalemate, and scholars hope that the public’s collective smarts—combined with new advances in technology, including cloud computing and big data—will yield new information and save them research money.

As of today, more than 200,000 oracle bones have been discovered—around 50,000 of which bear text—so scholars still have a lot to learn about the Shang Dynasty. Many of the ancient script's characters are difficult to verify, as they represent places and people from long ago. However, decoding even just one character could lead to a substantial breakthrough, experts say: "If we interpret a noun or a verb, it can bring many scripts on oracle bones to life, and we can understand ancient history better,” Chinese history professor Zhu Yanmin told the South China Morning Post.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

arrow
language
6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
Original image
Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.

1. SALMONELLA (OR SMITHELLA?)

In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.

2. AMERICA (OR COLUMBIANA?)

An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.

3. BLOOMERS (OR MILLERS?)

A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.

4. GUILLOTINE (OR LOUISETTE?)

Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.

5. BECHDEL TEST (OR WALLACE TEST?)

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

6. STIGLER’S LAW OF EPONYMY (OR MERTON’S LAW?)

Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios