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Slangadelic, Baby! The 10 Swingingest 'Austin Powers' Slang Terms

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Oh behave! Austin Powers is finally legal. Eighteen years ago today, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was released. In the movie, that cunning linguist Mike Myers does more than send up James Bond—he sends up British and ‘60s slang, real and otherwise. Here are 10 of the swingingest.

1. SHAGADELIC

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines shagadelic as sexy in a psychedelic way, as well as a “general term of approval.” The word was probably coined in the Austin Powers movie.

Shagadelic combines shag, to copulate, and psychedelic, hallucinatory or trippy. While psychedelic is from the 1950s, shag is much older. The OED’s earliest citation is from 1770 and is from Thomas Jefferson of all people: “He had shagged his mother and begotten himself on her body.” (This quote might be in regards to a legal case involving slander. At least, we sure hope it is.)

The copulation sense of shag might come from an earlier meaning, “to toss about.”

2. SWINGING

The film opens in 1960s swinging London, when everyone and everything is uninhibited, lively, and hip. This sense of swinging, which originated in the late 1950s, probably comes from a slightly earlier jazz term, referring to a musician who plays with swing, as in the style of big band.

Swinging in regards to sexual promiscuity originated in the mid-1960s, as such things do.

3. GROOVY

You can’t have swing without groove, baby. Like swinging, groovy began as jazz slang—although about 20 years earlier, in the 1930s—and has a similar meaning: playing in a brilliant and effortless way. The word groovy comes from the phrase, in the groove, which has the same meaning.

What groove you might be asking? The groove on a vinyl record perhaps, with the idea of a record playing smoothly and not skipping or scratching.

4. THROMBO

“Don’t have a thrombo!” Austin tells Vanessa. Thrombo, slang for a fit of rage, is short for thrombus, or a blood clot. While some dictionaries cite 2002 as the year of origin for thrombo, it’s obviously at least as old as this 1997 movie.

Another British slang term for a fit of anger is eppie, which is short for "epileptic fit."

5. HOW'S YOUR FATHER

“I like to give my undercarriage a bit of a how's-your-father,” says Austin. Translation: I like to have sex.

How’s your father was originally Cockney rhyming slang for lather, a state of agitation: “After the row, he was in a bit of a how’s your father.” But the phrase gained a bawdier connotation when, in the early 20th century, British comedian Harry Tate would break off in the middle of a potentially suggestive speech to address an audience member: “How’s your father?” Soon the phrase became a euphemism for sex.

6., 7., 8., AND 9. J. ARTHUR RANK, MY OLD CHINA, PORK PIES, AND CRIMBO

This example of Cockney rhyming slang is just one in a hilarious exchange in the third Austin Powers installment, Goldmember. J. Arthur Rank was a British industrialist, a serious-sounding occupation for a guy whose name is rhyming slang for wank, or masturbate.

Another term used in the Goldmember exchange is my old China, or my old mate, where China equals china plate, and plate rhymes with mate.

“Are you telling a bunch pork-pies and a bag of trout?” Austin asks. Pork-pies are lies, and although we couldn’t find a reference for bag of trout, we're guessing the phrase means lies or malarkey too.

“Don’t you remember the Crimbo din-din?” Austin's dad asks. Crimbo is British slang for Christmas while din-din is more obviously dinner.

10. WEDDING TACKLE

Like bits and pieces, meat and two veg, and twig and berries, wedding tackle is a euphemism for male genitalia. Tackle, which refers to any piece of equipment, also means penis. If wedding tackle weren’t slangy enough, Cockney rhyming slang for the phrase is witch’s cackle.

11. FEMBOT

“Bring on the fembots!” Frau Farbissinia screams.

The word fembot, a female robot, has been around at least since the 1970s, according to the OED, and may have made its debut in a 1976 episode of The Bionic Woman. In the episode, a scientist replaces six secretaries at the Office of Scientific Intelligence with six deadly fembots. Later, apparently, the fembots go to Las Vegas.

12. JUBBLY

“Smoke started coming out of their jubblies,” Austin says of the fembots. While jubbly came to refer to a woman’s breasts in the early 1990s, it originated in the '70s as Australian slang for something plump or fleshy, like the stomach or buttocks, and eventually came to describe a woman with large breasts.

Where the word comes from is unclear. It could be imitative of the movement of a fleshy body part, or it might come from the word jub, which is a jug for holding wine or liquor. The word jugs is also slang for a woman’s breasts.

13. CROSS-MOJONATION

When Austin is attacked by the fembots, he works his mojo to counter their mojo and gets “crossed mojonations,” resulting in exploding fembot heads.

Cross-mojonation plays on the term cross-pollination, the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, or else influence between diverse elements, as in different music genres. The word mojo, which might have African origins, first came into English in the 1920s. Originally referring to magical power or voodoo, the word more recently came to mean any kind of power or influence, including sexual.

By the 1930s, mojo was slang for any drug, especially morphine, and by the 1980s, it also referred to a Cuban sauce with garlic, olive oil, and citrus fruit. This latter meaning ultimately comes from the Spanish mojar, “to wet.”

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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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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