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7 More Mysterious Ape-men

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When I began to research cryptid apelike creatures from around the world, I was amazed at how many there were, from almost every corner of the earth. After posting 9 Mysterious Ape-men from Around the World, there were plenty left to investigate. They may be legends, illusions, or real animals we can't identify, but they are all quite interesting.

1. Fouke Monster

The Fouke Monster is named after the town of Fouke, Arkansas. Sightings have been reported since the 1940s, with a whole slew of sightings between 1970 and 1974. The Fouke Monster is a 7 to 10 foot tall ape-man with long shaggy hair and bright red eyes. It also has a foul odor. An attack on Bobby and Elizabeth Ford in 1971 sparked a frenzy of monster hunting. Three-toed footprints were found around the area, but later exposed as a hoax. The attack by an unknown animal on the Ford family inspired a movie entitled The Legend of Boggy Creek. The 1972 movie is available in eight parts on Youtube.

2. Moehau


New Zealand has its own cryptid ape-man called the Moehau. The large hairy creatures which haunt the Coromandel Ranges are aggressive and are thought to be responsible for the deaths of a prospector and a nearby woman in 1882. The woman had been abducted from her home and was found with a broken neck. The prospector had been partially eaten. Moehau are the size of a normal man, with an apelike face, long shaggy hair, and extremely long fingers and sharp fingernails or claws.

3. Barmanou


The Barmanou is a creature of the mountains of  Afghanistan and Pakistan that is described as resembling the North American Bigfoot. The large apelike creature has a terrible odor of sewage, and is sometimes seem wearing animal skins. The Barmanou has reportedly kidnapped human women to mate with, but how its motives were ascertained is uncertain. Dr. Jordi Magraner, a researcher who wrote about "relic hominids" was murdered while in Pakistan investigating the creature in 2002. The picture is one of Dr. Maganer's sketches from a description from Pakistani shepherd Lal Khan.

4. Nguoi Rung


The cryptid ape-man of Vietnam goes by many names, Particularly Batutut or Nguoi Rung. The earliest sighting by westerners was in 1947. There were so many sightings in 1974 that a scientific expedition was sent from Hanoi to investigate, at the height of the war. They returned with no conclusive evidence. In 1982, a footprint measuring 28 by 16 centimeters featuring long toes added to the belief in Nguoi Rung.

Reports of 'wildman' vary from large to small, with body hair from grey to brown or black and may be alone or with others. But always they are said to walk bipedally. They go by many names among highlands minority people, most are terms of respect. The Vietnamese name is Nguoi Rung - "Forest People". This is the direct equivalent of the name for an ape we do know from Indonesia, the Orang Utan.

Local people said the Nguoi Rung is attracted to fire, and will sit with villagers around a fire at night, but never speak.

5. Maricoxi


The Maricoxi is a South American cryptid, described by Colonel Percy Fawcett (before he mysteriously disappeared into the rain forest of Brazil) as enormous hairy savages that threatened his party with bows and arrows, but could not speak except for grunts. The Maricoxi fled when fired upon. Several types of Maricoxi have been described, ranging from dwarf-sized to 12 feet tall.

6. Yeti


The Yeti is part of the history and mythology of the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal and Tibet. The most common evidence of the Yeti are large footprints in the snow. The first recorded sighting by westerners was in 1832, and the first western account of Yeti footprints was in 1889. Early sightings all described the Yeti as having dark hair and walking upright on two feet. The number of sightings soared in the 20th century as more westerners traveled to the Himalayas for mountain climbing and exploring. Locals encouraged foreigners to believe any large footprints were made by the Yeti, as opposed to a bear or a wolf. The term "Abominable Snowman" was coined in 1921. Since then, the Yeti has been portrayed in popular culture as having white hair, as if to camouflage itself against the snow. This picture is from a video taken in Nepal in 1996.

7. Sasquatch


Undoubtably the most familiar primate cryptid is Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot, in North America. The Sasquatch Information Society keeps track of reported sightings, which come in constantly from all over Canada and the United States, but center mainly in the Pacific Northwest. Bigfoot is described as having the face of a gorilla, but the posture of a human. It is seven to nine feet tall and covered with long hair. Like some other cryptid apes, Sasquatch has an awful odor. Native Americans have legends of local apelike creatures going back many generations. The name Bigfoot was coined after huge footprints were found in 1958. Although many claims of evidence have been exposed as hoaxes, many people believe that it's possible for a species of giant ape or hominid to reside in the wilderness areas.

Also see the first part of this list, 9 Mysterious Ape-men from Around the World. Somewhat related: Animals that only bite tourists.

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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]