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Names Too Long For Name Tags (Even Comically Oversized Ones)

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We've all heard about celebrities who give their children, ah, unusual names. Pilot Inspektor, Moxie CrimeFighter, Audio Science, Kal-El. But this really isn't a recent phenomenon. People have been giving their kids interesting and unusual names (I'm trying to be diplomatic, here) since, well, people have been having kids.

Nicholas Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee- Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barbon

There's no documentation, but it's thought that he is the song of Praise-God Barebone/Barbon, an English preacher. Nicholas Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died"¦ OK, let's just call him Nicholas. Nicholas was an important part of London society and was integral in rebuilding the city after the great fire of 1666. All records show that he went strictly by the name of "Nicholas". I wonder what his gravestone says?

Louis George Maurice Adolphe Roche Albert Abel Antonio Alexandre Noë Jean Lucien Daniel Eugène Joseph-le-brun Joseph-Barême Thomas Thomas Thomas-Thomas Pierre Arbon Pierre-Maurel Barthélemi Artus Alphonse Bertrand Dieudonné Emanuel Josué Vincent Luc Michel Jules-de-la-plane Jules-Bazin Julio César Jullien

Louis was born on April 23, 1812 in Sisteron, Alpes-de-Haute Provence. His 36 names were given to him by members of the Sisteron Philharmonic. It appears that he preferred to go by "Louis Antoine Jullien", which is what he became known by when he became world-renowned for his orchestra. After traveling Scotland, Ireland and America, he settled in Paris where he was jailed for debt.

Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff

Hubert was born in Germany in 1904 and later settled in Philadelphia. I know; you're reading that name and thinking, "That's long, but it's not that long." Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff is actually the shortened form of his name. His full name was: Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberger-
dorffvoralternwarengewissenhaftschaferswessenschafewaren-
wohlgepflegeundsorgfaltigkeitbeschutzenvonangreifendurch-
ihrraubgierigfeindewelchevoralternzwolftausendjahresvoran-
dieerscheinenwanderersteerdemenschderraumschiffgebrauch-
lichtalsseinursprungvonkraftgestartseinlangefahrthinzwischen-
sternartigraumaufdersuchenachdiesternwelchegehabtbewohn-
barplanetenkreisedrehensichundwohinderneurassevonver-
standigmenschlichkeitkonntefortplanzenundsicherfreuenan-
lebenslanglichfreudeundruhemitnichteinfurchtvorangreifenvon-
andererintelligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum, Senior
(which begs the question"¦ is there a Junior? And why would he do that to his son?)

The Museum of Hoaxes has looked into this one to verify it and has decided it "seems to be true," unless the people at the Guinness Book of World Records were victims of a hoax themselves. Guinness named Mr. Wolfe+585 (the name he started going by) as the man with the longest name in the world from the mid 1970s to 1983. Apparently the entry for "longest name" disappeared altogether in the late 80s.

Anna Bertha Cecilia Diana Emily Fanny Gertrude Hypatia Inez Jane Kate Louise Maud Nora Ophelia Prudence Quince Rebecca Sarah Teresa Ulysis Venus Winifred Xenophon Yetty Zeno Pepper

Anna was a British lady profiled by Ripley's Believe It Or Not! in 1929. Apparently her friends just called her "Alphabet" for short.

Sometimes, though, people given conventional names at birth just aren't satisfied to be ordinary.

Tarquin Biscuit-Barrel

John Desmond Lewis, a 22-year-old student, changed his name to Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel, the name of a character from Monty Python's Flying Circus. He did so to contest the 1979 general election in the U.K. When the results of the general election were declared, the Returning Officer referred to John Desmond Lewis as "Mr. Tarquin Biscuit-Barrel."

bond

James...Bond

David Fearn changed his commonplace name to James Dr No From Russia with Love Goldfinger Thunderball You Only Live Twice On Her Majesty's Secret Service Diamonds Are Forever Live and Let Die The Man with the Golden Gun The Spy Who Loved Me Moonraker For Your Eyes Only Octopussy A View to a Kill The Living Daylights Licence to Kill Golden Eye Tomorrow Never Dies The World Is Not Enough Die Another Day Casino Royale Bond. No word on whether Fearn is a James Bond fan or not.

Then, of course, you have families who can't resist giving their whole brood coordinating names. Here's a couple:

Poppy Petal Emma Elizabeth Deveraux Donahue Montgomery

poppyYep, that's Without a Trace's Poppy Montgomery's full name. She has sisters named Rosie Thorn, Daisy Yellow, Lily Belle and Marigold Sun. She has a brother too. Anyone want to take a stab at his name? You'll never guess. It's Jethro Tull.

The Geldof/Yates kids

peachesBob Geldof and Paula Yates had three daughters together "“ Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa (that's her on the right), Little Pixie Frou-Frou and Fifi Trixibelle. They divorced and Paula moved in with Michael Hutchence from INXS. They also had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.

The Phoenixes

riverDid you know River Phoenix's real name is River Bottom? Seriously. River Jude Bottom. His dad's name was John Bottom. River's brother, obviously, is Joaquin. He had three younger sisters "“ Rain, Summer and Liberty "“ and one half sister named Trust. River, Joaquin, Rain, Summer and Liberty's mother's given name was Arlyn but she changed her name to "Heart" in 1988.

The Zappa Kids

moonObviously I can't end this post without mentioning the Zappa kids. First, there's Moon Unit Zappa, who just goes by Moon Zappa. Dweezil Zappa's given name was Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa because the hospital refused to register him as Dweezil. His whole family continued to call him that, though, and he legally changed his name to Dweezil when he was only seven. Ahmet Emuukha Rodin Zappa is named after Ahmet Ertegün, one of the founders at Atlantic Records who was responsible for Frank's career. Finally, Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa came along in 1979 and earned her name because she was the loudest baby in the nursery (according to Frank).

I know I've only hit the tip of the iceberg "“ let's hear about the strange names you've come across!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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iStock
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Health
One Bite From This Tick Can Make You Allergic to Meat
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iStock

We like to believe that there’s no such thing as a bad organism, that every creature must have its place in the world. But ticks are really making that difficult. As if Lyme disease wasn't bad enough, scientists say some ticks carry a pathogen that causes a sudden and dangerous allergy to meat. Yes, meat.

The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) mostly looks like your average tick, with a tiny head and a big fat behind, except the adult female has a Texas-shaped spot on its back—thus the name.

Unlike other American ticks, the Lone Star feeds on humans at every stage of its life cycle. Even the larvae want our blood. You can’t get Lyme disease from the Lone Star tick, but you can get something even more mysterious: the inability to safely consume a bacon cheeseburger.

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," allergist Ronald Saff, of the Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider.

What prompted them was STARI, or southern tick-associated rash illness. People with STARI may develop a circular rash like the one commonly seen in Lyme disease. They may feel achy, fatigued, and fevered. And their next meal could make them very, very sick.

Saff now sees at least one patient per week with STARI and a sensitivity to galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose—more commonly known as alpha-gal—a sugar molecule found in mammal tissue like pork, beef, and lamb. Several hours after eating, patients’ immune systems overreact to alpha-gal, with symptoms ranging from an itchy rash to throat swelling.

Even worse, the more times a person is bitten, the more likely it becomes that they will develop this dangerous allergy.

The tick’s range currently covers the southern, eastern, and south-central U.S., but even that is changing. "We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northward and westward and cause more problems than they're already causing," Saff said. We've already seen that occur with the deer ticks that cause Lyme disease, and 2017 is projected to be an especially bad year.

There’s so much we don’t understand about alpha-gal sensitivity. Scientists don’t know why it happens, how to treat it, or if it's permanent. All they can do is advise us to be vigilant and follow basic tick-avoidance practices.

[h/t Business Insider]

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