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The Quick 10: 10 Facts About Clark Gable

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So, if you've stuck with me and the Quick 10s all week, you're in on the Clark Gable joke. Otherwise, here's what happened: Monday's post about martini preferences just happened to include the preference of the character Clark Gable played in the movie Teacher's Pet - turn a bottle of vermouth upside down to wet the cork, then run the damp cork around the rim of a martini glass and fill it with gin. No big deal.

Tuesday, to celebrate Veterans Day, we looked at 10 celebrities who left their fame to go serve the country. Guess who did that? Clark Gable. I thought it was funny that I randomly mentioned Clark Gable two days in a row (or maybe I have Clark Gable on the brain?) and decided to work him into the Q10s for the rest of the week. Now, Wednesday and Thursday may have been a stretch, but I did it. So, to finish out the week (and the joke), today's Q10 is all about Rhett Butler himself. Happy Friday "“ see you next week, when we return to our regularly-scheduled, un-Clark Gable-related posts.

1. He was accidentally listed as a female on his birth certificate.

2. His mom died of a brain tumor when he was less than a year old.

3. When he was first in Hollywood (1924), he went by W.C. Gable (his full name was William Clark Gable). By 1925, he had changed it to Clark Gable.

4. He had almost a full set of dentures when he was only 32.

Because of a bad gum infection in 1933, he had to have most of his teeth removed and replaced by dentures, which caused him to suffer from halitosis. During the filming of Gone with the Wind, Vivien Leigh complained about how foul the stench was... but they got along really well other than that.

5. He was a bit obsessed with cleanliness. He showered several times a day and never took a bath because he was disgusted by the thought of sitting in dirty water. He also had his sheets changed every single day.

6. He had an affair with Loretta Young while they were making The Call of the Wild. It resulted in a daughter, Judy Lewis. Loretta disappeared for a while to have the baby and denied that it was Gable's - she said she had adopted. It wasn't much of a secret, though - Judy grew up looking exactly like him (big ears and all) and the ruse was blown, even though Loretta Young didn't admit it until well after Judy was an adult. Judy actually had surgery at the age of seven to make her ears less prominent. In a strange coincidence, Gable and Young's daughter was very good friends with Cammie King, the girl who played Bonnie Blue in Gone with the Wind

7. He won an Academy Award for his role in It Happened One Night, but gave it away to a little kid who thought it was pretty. He figured winning it was more important than owning it. The Oscar was given back to Clark Gable's widow after he died in 1960.

shirt8. Clark Gable single-handedly made the sales of men's undershirts drop"¦ maybe. During It Happened One Night, he takes off his shirt and has nothing on underneath "“ keep in mind, this was a time when men always wore undershirts. Supposedly, the fad swept the nation and men's undershirts collected dust at the stores. Snopes classifies it as an unverified story, but it's interesting nonetheless.
9.He was so angry that his co-star Hattie McDaniel wasn't allowed to attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind, he was planning on boycotting it. He only ended up going because Hattie convinced him that it was OK. They were good friends and he enjoyed pranking her on the set of the movie - he once slipped alcohol into the teapot she was supposed to pour herself a drink out of; she didn't realize he had made the switch until she tasted it.
10. His movie Red Dust with Jean Harlow and Mary Astor from 1932 was remade in 1951 as Mogambo with Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner. He played the same role in both movies.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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