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The Weekend Links

"¢ From Angie, human beach sculptures, an installation which "consists of 100 cast iron figures which face out to sea, spread over a 3.2 km stretch of the beach. Each figure is 189 cm tall and weighs around 650 kg. As the tides ebb and flow, the figures are revealed and submerged by the sea." A little creepy, to be sure.

"¢ Paul has sent in one of the most mesmerizingly cool sites ever. The British Library offers a program called Turning the Pages, where you can explore delicately preserved pieces of literature electronically, including some of the first "books" ever made.

"¢ Also from Paul, a website extensively devoted to creative mailboxes. I even spotted one from my hometown of Columbus, Georgia. Who knew?

"¢ From Holly, an oldie but goodie: movie remakes with bunnies. Speaking of, don't ever forget about this site to help you after a long, hard day. And if you don't think I'm going to seek out that pygmy hog in real life, you are mistaken.

"¢ The Art of Manliness has selected 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man's Library. Get a jump on your Father's Day shopping.

"¢ Here's a list of 6 terrible movies Hollywood almost made. Here's an idea for another list: 600 terrible movies Hollywood DID make. Although I am glad we were spared these few at least.

"¢ Dawn has sent in two helpful links for our Flossy pleasure. One is Seat Guru, "a site that not only has all the seating charts of most airlines (including international airlines!) it also reviews particular seats on each type of plane the airline uses. There is also a comparison chart that shows the different seat pitches in different airlines." Also, a site I've used before (although you would think I could easily calculate a distance like "2 blocks before she runs out of breath"), Map My Run—where you can map out your run/walk, calculate distance, and check to see where there's water, restrooms, etc., even if your route doesn't stay on conventional paths or streets.

"¢ Reader Tony from Tennessee has sent in a link to his stamp blog, where in this article he details a story about incredible postal workers aboard the Titanic. Kudos to Tony, who makes stamp collecting interesting indeed!

"¢ I don't know about your guys, but here in Atlanta I have a long commute wherever I go. Here's a fun Argentinean commercial that shows what people would rather be doing on their commute than sitting in a car. I might be thinking about this two-minute vacation to the Chattahoochee River, located right here in Georgia.

"¢ From Jan, two links to the new collaborative Flickr group called Word Time, which was set up to "share the variations in our pronunciations with weekly lists of words." See an example from the first week, and learn how to participate yourself.

"¢ Stuck inside on a rainy weekend? This eco-friendly Canadian site has projects, scavenger hunts, and activities for kids.

"¢ This week's video from The Daily Tube ("the best new videos on the Internet") looks at Japanese bicycle parking.

"¢ Inspiring news: a 78-year-old man just bowled a perfect 300. The catch? He's legally blind. He suffers from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Read about Dale Davis' amazing story here.

"¢ Have some time on your hands? Peruse through 50 of the Greatest Commercial Parodies. Some you might not remember, but all are pure gold.

"¢ After reading yesterday's post on memorable commencement addresses, reader Bill Eccles sent in this graduation photo.

"¢ Friend of the Floss Noah Brier has been getting a lot of press for his Brand Tags project. "The basic idea of this site is that a brand exists entirely in people's heads. Therefore, whatever it is they say a brand is, is what it is." Happy tagging!

"¢ Finally, two pictures—a soothing and intriguing creation found by from my friend Kevin, and one to make you laugh from Pat.

Hope you guys have a fantastic weekend! Keep sending me links, pictures and all manner of internet arcanum at FlossyLinks@gmail.com.

[Last Weekend's Links]

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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Universal Pictures
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Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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