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The Horror of Bunnies: 8 Rabbits to Avoid

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You hear tales of ghosts, witches, vampires, monsters, and other assorted scary icons. But none can be more terrifying than bunny rabbits!

1. Gargoyle Rabbit

This terrifying gargoyle is known as the Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle. He perches above a solicitor's office behind St. Nicholas' Cathedral in Newcastle, England. No one knows why he is there, or what makes him glare with such evil. Image by Leo Reynolds.

2. Giant Mutant Rabbits


The 1972 film Night of the Lepus is the definitive monster bunny movie. Plagued by too many rabbits, a community turns to scientists who experiment on the rabbits to keep them from reproducing. An escaped rabbit reproduces anyway, and the results are huge carnivorous mutants that eat anything in their way, including humans!

3. Were-Rabbit


In the 2005 claymation film Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a mysterious nocturnal rabbit is raiding a community's vegetable gardens, threatening the annual vegetable contest. It turns out that the hero of the story is suffering from a curse (brought on by his own machinery) that causes him to turn into a giant rabbit when he is exposed to moonlight!

4. Vampire Rabbit

220bunnicula.jpgBunnicula, the Vampire Rabbit was a 1982 animated ABC Weekend Special based on a series of children's books by James Howe. Bunnicula was a family pet who sucked the juices out of vegetables. Not all that frightening in reality -unless you're a vegetable. Nevertheless, Bunnicula can sprout bat wings, fly, and move things with the power of his mind.

5. Killer Rabbit


The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog guards the entrance to the cave of Caerbannog in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes, he may look like a innocent little fluffball, but he can bite your head off before you even realize it, as he did Bors, Gawain, and Ector in the movie. Run away! Run away! The Killer Rabbit also appears in the musical Spamalot. You can purchase a Killer Rabbit here.

6. Imaginary Rabbit


Evil rabbits can even invade our thoughts! The 2001 movie Donnie Darko left many with nightmares of imaginary human-size rabbits, and not the benign imaginary friend we met in the movie Harvey. The apparition of a 6-foot rabbit named Frank saves Donnie Darko's life and tells him the world will end in 28 days. Frank incites Donnie into committing criminal acts -and why not, if the world is going to end anyway?

7. Versatile Rabbits


Bunnies can portray any evil character, as they demonstrate in the 30-second Bunnies Theater. See bunnies perform in Alien, The Shining, Freddie vs. Jason, Night of the LIving Dead, Saw, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (as well as non-scary films) at Angry Alien.

8. Swamp Rabbit


Not all killer rabbits are fictional. In April of 1979, president Jimmy Carter was fishing near his home in Plains, Georgia when he was attacked by a swamp rabbit! The rabbit swam toward the president's boat and tried to board. Carter had to fend it off with an oar. Press secretary Jody Powell is quoted from his 1986 book The Other Side of the Story:

The animal was clearly in distress, or perhaps berserk. The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind. What was obvious, however, was that this large, wet animal, making strange hissing noises and gnashing its teeth, was intent upon climbing into the Presidential boat.

After some objected that rabbits can't swim, a picture of the incident was produced, clearly showing the rabbit swimming. The rabbit's political affiliation is still unknown.
Obviously, bunny rabbits are out to get us. Beware!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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© Nintendo
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.