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12 TV Shows Canceled After One Episode

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Addicted to terrible reality shows? Take comfort knowing that they can’t possibly be as bad as these short-lived series, all of which were canceled after just one episode.

1. Heil Honey I'm Home!

Can you imagine a worse premise for a sitcom than the escapades of Hitler and Eva Braun? No? Well, picture this: a Jewish couple moves in next door. Seriously. (You can watch it here.)

 

2. The Will

Canceled in 2005 because people apparently didn't find family members and friends competing to be named the beneficiary of a loved one's will too palatable.
 

3. Who's Your Daddy? 

A 2005 reality show in which an adopted woman tried to pick her biological dad out of a group of phonies. Due to huge backlash, the show ended up being a "special" instead of a series premiere.


4. Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos

 Notable because it was actually canceled while on the air. During episode one, which featured videos of people in embarrassing (and often sexual) situations, the owner of the station called in and told them to pull it immediately. The network cut to a Cheers rerun.


5. Beware of Dog

 Capitalizing on the Look Who's Talking trend about 10 years too late, this 2002 Animal Planet show featured the inner thoughts of a dog adopted by some suburbanites.

6. Comedians Unleashed 

Another Animal Planet strike out. This was a standup comedy show with animal-themed jokes. Not funny.

7. Emily's Reasons Why Not

Poor Heather Graham. Her starring vehicle was canceled by the ABC programming chief the day after it aired, because he decided that it wasn't going to get any better.


8. Lawless
 

In 1997, real-life retired Seattle Seahawk Brian Bosworth tried his hand at acting. His private investigator character was not very convincing, I guess.


9. The Melting Pot

"Mr. Van Gogh" is an illegal Pakistani immigrant in London. Lots of thoughtful, not-at-all racist hilarity ensues. Or not.

10. Secret Talents of the Stars 

No one cared about Danny Bonaduce riding a unicycle, Marla Maples doing gymnastics or Sheila E. juggling, though, so the secret talents of the rest of the "stars" will have to remain hidden.


11. Ford Nation

Disgraced Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s first crack at punditry was actually kind of successful. The 2013 premiere of his talk show, co-hosted by brother Doug, brought Canada’s Sun News its highest ratings ever. But network execs gave it the ax because production costs were too high. (The inexperienced duo’s first episode required five hours to film, and eight to edit.)


12. Turn-On

ABC executives pulled the plug on the risqué (and futuristic) 1969 sketch comedy show – whose scenes were supposedly written by a computer – just 10 minutes into its first episode, according to host Tim Conway. In actuality, the show was canceled a few days after it aired – although a local Ohio affiliate did decide not to return to the program after its first commercial break.

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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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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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