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10 Memorable Presidential Campaign Slogans

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By Brendan Spiegel

While today's presidential slogans are mostly indistinguishable combinations of the words "America," "leader," and "change," that certainly wasn't always the case. Here are 10 campaign slogans worth remembering.

1. Voters didn't know much about Democrat Franklin Pierce when he headed into the 1852 election, so Pierce decided to cast himself as the rightful heir to popular ex-president James K. Polk. Pierce's pun of a slogan? "We Polked You in '44, We Shall Pierce You in '52." It may sound oddly threatening now, but it did the trick. Pierce beat his Whig opponent in a landslide.

2. Modern-day politicians make some pretty outlandish campaign pledges, but giving away government property has to take the cake. That's what Abraham Lincoln did in 1860 when he ran for the White House under the slogan "Vote Yourself a Farm"—a bold promise to give settlers free land throughout the West. To his credit, however, Lincoln followed through and signed the Homestead Act in 1862.

3. Modern politicians didn't invent you're-either-with-us-or-against-us politics. Way back in 1868, General Ulysses S. Grant rode his Civil War victories into the White House with the slogan "Vote as You Shot"—a direct order to Union voters to toe the Republican line.

4. The award for quickest about-face on a campaign slogan goes to Woodrow Wilson, who campaigned for re-election in 1916 with the motto "He Kept Us Out of War." Americans voted with him in an effort to keep the peace, but five months later, Wilson led the country into World War I.

5. Prohibition was all the rage in 1920, much to the dismay of Democratic nominee James M. Cox, who believed making alcohol illegal only benefited criminals and bootleggers. His opponent, Warren G. Harding, attacked Cox for this stance and ridiculed him with the slogan "Cox and Cocktails." Ironically, after Harding won the presidency in a landslide, he was well-known to enjoy stiff drinks in the comfort of the White House.

6. Kansas Governor Alfred Landon emphasized his heartland roots during the 1936 election by adorning his campaign paraphernalia with bright yellow sunflowers. In response, opponent Franklin Roosevelt and his Democratic supporters went right for the kill, pointing out that "Sunflowers Die in November." They were right; Landon won just two states. Kansas wasn't one of them.

7. When F.D.R. sought an unprecedented third term during the 1940 presidential race, it incited a backlash among those who felt it was time to move on. His Republican opponent, Wendell Willkie, got right to the point, stamping his campaign buttons with the slogan "Roosevelt for Ex-President."

carter8 & 9. Republican nominee Barry Goldwater inspired a legion of impassioned conservatives in 1964 with his slogan "In Your Heart, You Know He's Right." But Lyndon Johnson's Democratic campaign came up with a response that more effectively branded Goldwater as a right-wing extremist: "In Your Guts, You Know He's Nuts."

10. After unexpectedly winning the 1976 Democratic primary, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter sought to stress his humble roots as a peanut farmer and also prove that he was a candidate to take seriously. He did both with his slogan, "Not Just Peanuts."

This article originally appeared in the Wildest Rides to the White House issue of mental_floss magazine (Sept-Oct 2008).

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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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]