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11 Colleges That Changed Their Mascots

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With college football season starting up, we thought it might be interesting to take a look back at a few colleges who have changed their nicknames or mascots. Here are a few squads that have changed mascots, either because of controversy or the emergence of a better alternative.

1. Dartmouth College
The Ivy League school abandoned its unofficial Indian mascot in the 1970s in favor of going by the longtime nickname "the Big Green." Students missed having a real mascot, though, so in 2003 members of the humor magazine Dartmouth Jack-o-Lantern created a new one: Keggy the Keg. As you might imagine, he's an anthropomorphic beer keg.


2. University of Evansville
Until the 1924-25 basketball season, the University of Evansville's teams went by the bland nickname "the Pioneers." During a game in which Evansville routed Louisville, though, the Cardinals' coach remarked to the Pioneers that "You didn't have four aces up your sleeve, you had five!" A sports editor at the Evansville Courier heard the story and thought it was so funny he started referring to the school's teams by their current nickname, the Purple Aces.

3. Carthage College

Like St. John's and UMass, the small Wisconsin liberal arts school used to be known as "the Redmen." But while St. John's became the Red Storm in 1994 and UMass has been the Minutemen since 1972, Carthage got creative to avoid offending Native Americans while still paying homage to the school's red jerseys. The teams went from being the Redmen to the Red Men while removing any Native American imagery from their logo, and the NCAA gave the revamped name the thumbs-up.

4. Miami University
Ben Roethlisberger's alma mater went by the nickname "the Redskins" until 1997, when the school switched to the RedHawks for obvious reasons.

5. University of Hawaii at Manoa
Rainbows-FootballUntil 2000 all of Hawaii's teams were known as the Rainbow Warriors, but not all athletes loved being affiliated with the rainbow. Athletic Director Hugh Yoshida said, "It's part of the gay community, their flags and so forth. Some of the student athletes had some feelings in regard to that."


In response to these homophobic "feelings," the school revamped its logo into a rainbow-less block letter "H" and let each team select its own mascot. As a result, the football team is now just the "Warriors," while the basketball team is the "Rainbow Warriors" and the apparently progressive baseball team is simply the "Rainbows."

6. Eastern Washington University
In 1973 the student body decided that its mascot, the Savages, had to go. Since then the school's teams have been known as the Eagles.

7. St. Bonaventure University
Prior to 1979, St. Bonaventure's men's teams were known as the Brown Indians. Believe it or not, that wasn't even the most offensive name on campus; the women's squads went by "the Brown Squaws" until 1979. In 2001 one former female athlete at St. Bonaventure told Indian Country Today, "[A] Seneca chief and clan mothers came over from the reservation and asked us to stop using the name because it meant "˜vagina.' We almost died of embarrassment." Since then the teams have been known as the Bonnies.

elon8. Elon University
Until 1999 the North Carolina school's teams went by the less-than-intimidating moniker "the Fighting Christians." However, as the school started to transition to Division I competition it needed a new mascot, which ended up being the Phoenix.


9. Stanford University
The Pac-10 power's teams were known as the Indians until 1972, when the school dropped the nickname in favor of the Cardinals. The new nickname was supposed to refer to the school's red color rather than the bird, but the plural form threw people off. Thus, in 1981 the school changed its nickname again, this time to the singular Cardinal. Stanford's signature zany tree mascot burst onto the scene in the post-Indians period when the school didn't really have one. Members of the band took it upon themselves to come up with a new mascot, and tried out several unsuccessful ideas like the Steaming Manhole and the French Fry. When they trotted out the Tree, though, the student body quickly fell in love, and the new mascot tradition started.

10. Wright State University
Sometimes a school's nickname stays the same while the mascot changes. The Wright State Raiders rallied behind Rowdy Raider, a red-bearded Viking from 1986 to 1997, when the pillaging sailor found himself replaced by a wolf. The school's teams still call themselves the Raiders, though.

11. The College of William & Mary
William & Mary was another school that called its teams the Indians until the 1990s, when it changed to the Tribe. The nickname placated the NCAA, but the team's new logo, a "W" and an "M" adorned with two tribal feathers, seemed to still suggest a Native American element. NCAA regulation eventually forced the school to drop the feathers, but the Tribe nickname remains.

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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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Opening Ceremony
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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:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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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]

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