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The Quick 10: 10 Cereals That Will Give You a Toothache Just By Reading About Them

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I could probably eat cereal for every meal. I love Franken-Berry, but I only allow myself to have it once a year (at Halloween, of course). Otherwise I would probably go through the whole box in a day, because I'd eat it for every meal and snack on it dry. Despite my love of cereal, I find these 10 kind of questionable. And if you remember one from your childhood that definitely wouldn't make it to the shelves these days, tell us what it was in the comments.

1. Sir Grapefellow was "grape-flavored oat cereal with sweet grape starbits." I don't want me oats to taste like grapes. Sir Grapefellow himself was a British Flying Ace, circa WWI.

2. Kombos. "Orange-flavored flakes of corn." I don't think corn flakes should taste like fruit, either.

3. Baron von Redberry was Grapefellow's arch nemesis! As his German counterpart, Redberry's cereal was berry-flavored oat flakes with sweet berry marshmallows. Word is, it tasted a lot like fruit punch.
4. Quisp and Quake. Quisp is still sold in my local grocery store. It's "vitamin-powered sugar cereal!" Quisp supposedly tastes like Cap'n Crunch but with a texture that won't cut your gums when you bite into it (can any _flossers verify this?) and Quake was similar, but shaped like gears instead of saucers.

OKS5. OKs. The idea isn't that bad, I don't think - essentially, they're the same as Alpha-Bits. I think it's just the execution of the idea I find a little odd. The dude's name is Big Otis. He had a bit of dialogue on the cereal box: "I am the big oat man from Scotland. And OKs are made of oats. These new Kellogg's OKs are the biggest thing that's happened to oats in 25 years. They are on their way to being the new favorite of kids and adults everywhere. Here's the meat of the oats in it's tenderest, tastiest form. Flavored as only Kellogg's knows how. OKs are rich in special oat protein. Aye, and OKs oats come to breakfast tasting better than you've ever imagined. They're K - E - Double L - O - Double Good!" Thanks to Topher's Breakfast Cereal Guide for the text.

6. Sprinkle Spangles. The cereal was star shaped, and each piece was supposed to be covered in sprinkles. Dom DeLuise was the voice of the Sprinkle Spangles genie, who liked to claim, "You wish it, I dish it!" Photo from X-Entertainment

surprize7. Surprize. AGGGHH!! The spelling, for one, is completely hideous! "Mr. Wonderfull's Surprize"? It burns my retinas. But the very idea of creamy chocolate ("chocolate flavor") lurking in each individual piece of cereal makes me a little urpy. I don't like when there's an unexpected substance in the middle of my food. It's why I don't like raisins in bread or cookies and it's why I can't eat doughnuts with pudding or jelly in the middle. Ew. Sorry for the rant; this one just really grossed me out.

8. KABOOM seems to be similar to other fruit-flavored cereals, except for the terrifying circus theme. That's probably just me, though. It's particularly notable because it was the box of cereal used in the Kill Bill scene where Vernita Green unexpectedly pulls a gun from the box, shoots through it and sends cereal flying all over the kitchen. Get it, "KABOOM!" Oh, that Quentin Tarantino.

BIG MIXX9. Bigg Mixx was sold for only a year in the early '90s, and seems to have basically been a mash-up of whatever leftover cereals the company had after packaging everything else. They pretty much just dumped a bunch of different cereals together and called it Bigg Mixx. I'm strangely intrigued. Anyone ever try this one?
10. Orange Blossom Cereal. This one was named after Strawberry Shortcake's buddy and was an "Artificial orange flavor-frosted corn cereal." I think I just can't get past orange-flavored cereal.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Opening Ceremony
These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:


Opening Ceremony

To this:


Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]