The Lingo of Battlestar Galactica

An appreciation of the returning sci-fi hit's most distinctive language Battlestar Galactica returns tonight, and I for one am giddy as a schoolgirl on crack. As the second half of the fourth and final season begins, there are many questions to be answered. How will the colonists and Cylons deal with..

An appreciation of the returning sci-fi hit's most distinctive language

Battlestar Galactica returns tonight, and I for one am giddy as a schoolgirl on crack.As the second half of the fourth and final season begins, there are many questions to be answered. How will the colonists and Cylons deal with the long-searched-for earth turning out to be a desolate, Planet-of-the-Apes-type hellscape? What is the deal with Starbuck/Baltar/various prophesies/the Cylon plan/etc.? And for the love of pancakes, who is the final Cylon?Since this is a language column and not a sci-fi geekfest, I'd better take off my Cylon Halloween helmet and put on my word-nerd beret. For just a moment, let's forget the show's many virtues, including the uber-grit of Edward James Olmos, the mind-blowing special effects, the gams of Number Six, and the overall intensity of the drama. For old fans or new, here's an appreciation/introduction to some of the show's most distinctive language, especially two terms that are sure to outlast BSG by a stretch: Cylon and frak.Some BSG words are technical, like dradis, a space radar system, usually used to detect Cylon basestars and raiders, as opposed to the battlestars, vipers, and raptors of the (mostly) good guys in the colonial fleet. Sitrep-a word often barked by Admiral Adama-is real world military jargon for "situation report." Expressions like "Oh my gods" and "Godsdamn it" are a nod toward the polytheistic religion of the colonists (only the Cylons and squirrely Gaius Baltar worship one deity).Speaking of those wascally wobots, Cylon is the first of two terms that has a life outside the show, unlike fans such as myself. If you haven't been watching, Cylons are (mostly) evil robots who wiped out 99% of the human race, setting the original and re-imagined series in motion, in 1978 and 2003 respectively. I looked at Cylon closely for the Oxford University Press blog, and based on all the uses and variations I found, it's safe to say the Cylons have taken their place at the table of well-known fictional races, along with hobbits, Wookies, orcs, Klingons, Vulcans, and undecideds.Since (some of) the Cylons in the new BSG are covert, human-looking folks, a lot of the BSG drama has revolved around who-the-blazes-is-a-Cylon tension. Such convos are continued and amplified by fans, and it's likely that humorous variations of the "You're a Cylon!" accusation will live on in slang, much like people wonder if a corporate drone is a member of the Borg or a beautiful-yet-scary woman is a fembot.If you do run into a gaggle of Cylons and feel like insulting them, you could call the human-looking ones skinjobs (a term used on the show and borrowed from Blade Runner) or humlons (as coined by fans). Or you could call any Cylon a toaster, a nod to the original series' chromy Cylons, who were mega-toaster-like in appearance.By far, frak is the most-used word on the show, and it's spread well beyond the world of toasters, joining the club of successful euphemisms that includes f-bomb, freak, frig, frick, and fug. Coined on the original BSG-where it was spelled frack-the word has blossomed with the show's reinvention. On-show variations have included motherfraker, frak-all, guaran-frakkin'-tee, and frak you, while fans have come up with clusterfrak, metric frakload, absofrakinglutely, fan-fraking-tastic, raza-frakkin, and mind-forever-frakked-upedness, among others. It's also turned up on episodes of Scrubs, 30 Rock, and Veronica Mars.Jesse Sheidlower-North American Editor-at-Large of the Oxford English Dictionary-is well-versed in such matters as editor of The F-word: the ultimate collection of meanings, uses, and variations of the most multi-dimensional word in the language.On the success of frak-which will be included in the forthcoming third edition of The F-word-Sheidlower says the word just "sounds right. It has the /f/, it has the vowel, it has the /k/; the/r/ isn't too intrusive, and frak happens not to be an existing word." This gives "the right feel to it, without reminding us of anything different. So it's not some obvious fake euphemism." The same can't be said for the original BSG's felgercarb, an unwieldy euphemism for shit or bullshit that remains stranded in the 1970s.It's been weeks since I downloaded to my resurrection ship-to use two other Cylontific terms-so I'm sure there's plenty of BSG words I've neglected. Since we have to do something while waiting for tonight's ep, let me know what I've omitted or fraked up in comments.
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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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