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TV's 10 Best Fake Swear Words

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istock (speech bubble) / NBC (30 rock still)

Swearing on television can be a tricky business. There are still a lot of “dirty” words you can’t say, and the ones you can are often limited. For instance, on Mad Men only three "sh**s" are allowed per episode.

To get around such restrictions, some shows replace the "bad" words with benign ones—Castle's "Shut the front door" is one example—while others just make up their own, some of which are even better than actual swears. Just don’t tell the FCC.

1. BLURGH

A Liz Lemon-30 Rock original, blurgh was first said in the 2007 episode "Cleveland," according to GOOD Magazine.

Blurgh was something Tina Fey and the show's writers would say "around the writer’s room," and since being on network television didn't allow them to curse, they’d “run out of non-cursing ways of saying things,” and started to make up their own.

Blurgh shouldn’t be confused with Blërg, Liz’s home office desk from Ikea.

2. CLOFF-PRUNKER

From the British sketch comedy show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, a cloff-prunker is an “illicit practice” in which “one person frangilates another's slimp” and “gratifies the other person by smuctating them avially.” Of course none of this makes sense and just shows the arbitrariness and subjectivity of what's considered obscene.

Other “obscenities” from the skit include pimhole and fusking.

3. FIST BUMP

The One When Ross Gives the Finger—only of course he doesn’t really.

The Friendsfist bump gesture, code for flipping the bird, made its debut in the 1997 episode, “The One with Joey’s New Girlfriend,” and is used throughout the show. In one instance, Ross responds to Rachel’s fist bump with a fervent flapping of elbows, although this is never explained.

4. FRAK

A euphemism for another f word, frak was first used in the 1978 Battlestar Galactica series but spelled as frack. For the 2004 reboot, frack was changed to frak, apparently because the producers wanted to make it a true four-letter word.

Fracking, on the other hand, refers to hydraulic fracturing, the use of high pressure water injections to fracture subterranean rock to obtain oil or gas.

5. FRELL

“It’s more than flawed," says Ka D'Argo. "It’s frelled.”

Frell is Farscape’s favorite curse word, and could be a combination of f*** and hell, as well as influenced by intensives like freaking and frigging.

Other fake swears from Farscape include dren, a synonym for “sh**,” and hezmana, said in place of “hell.”

6. GORRAM

Joss Whedon’s Firefly takes place in a future that’s a mix of Western and Chinese cultures. Non-Chinese characters often lapse into (badly spoken) Mandarin Chinese, and gorram might be one of them.

Actually Chinglish is probably more like it. It’s thought that gorram is "goddamn" spoken with a Chinese accent.

However, Firefly wasn't the first to use gorram in place of goddamn. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word gorm as a “vulgar substitute for ‘(God) damn’" was coined or at least popularized by 19th century novelist Charles Dickens.

7. JAGWEED

Another Liz Lemon creation, jagweed is a synonym for douchebag. The word plays off jagoff or jackoff, both corruptions of jerkoff. The phrases jerk off and jack off, to masturbate, both originated in the 1930s or earlier, says the OED.

Jagweed is also used in another Tina Fey show, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

8. SHAZBOT

Of Mork & Mindy fame, shazbot is “Orkan profanity” that also works as a euphemism for "sh**." Robin Williams is said to have made up the word himself—not surprising for an actor who did so much hilarious ad-libbing on the show, the writers left “blank moments” to let him have at it.

The word shazbot might be influenced by Shazam, aka Captain Marvel, and robot.

9. SMEG

Smeg, from the British science fiction series Red Dwarf, seems to be used to replace "f***." “Why don’t you smegging well smeg off!" says Rimmer. "You annoying little smeggy smegging smegger!”

As for where smeg comes from, it echoes the (disgusting) word smegma, “a whitish sebaceous secretion that collects between the glans penis and foreskin or in the vulva.”

10. SMURF

In addition to being an all-purpose, seemingly random word replacement—“Didn’t you love smurfing with Papa Smurf at the smurf yestersmurf?"—smurf is also a euphemism for God or lord. “Great smurfs!” Papa Smurf cries, and “Name of a smurf!”

In the recent Smurfs movie, the word is used more like a direct expletive replacement: “Where the smurf are we?"

We're at the smurfing end, you smurfing smurf-head.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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