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The Quick 10: 10 of America's Most Haunted Cemeteries

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I live just across the street from a cemetery, and this time of year it's certainly not hard to creep myself out a little bit when walking the dogs after work - especially in the evening when the sun is sinking below the horizon, giving everything an eerie glow. But despite scaring myself, I can't say that I've heard of any actual hauntings or sightings that have happened there. That's not the case for these 10 cemeteries, which are considered to be some of the spookiest sites in the U.S. Here they are, in no particular order:

LAVEAU1. St. Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans. There are three St. Louis Cemeteries in the Big Easy, but #1 is said to be the most haunted. It's the oldest, for sure, opening in 1789 to replace St. Peter Cemetery, which burned in 1788. It's no wonder the cemetery holds some haunts - with more than 100,000 people buried in a section of land about the size of a block, you'd expect that a few of them might have a little unfinished business. The tomb that tends to attract the most attention is that of Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo priestess. People mark three "X"es on her tomb, believing that doing so will cause her to grant them a wish.
2. Stull Cemetery, Kansas - the Gates to Hell. OK, probably not, but you have to admit that a church reduced to rubble does spark the imagination. And the fact that the crumbling church finally fell down on Good Friday - also good fodder. Rumor has it that if you go up and knock on a rock in the rubble pile as if you were knocking on a door, the Devil himself will rise up and answer.

3. Western Burial Ground, Westminster Presbyterian Churchyard, Baltimore, Maryland. It's fitting that the cemetery Edgar Allan Poe now calls home is considered one of the scariest in America. Poe's ghost has been spotted, of course, but another freaky story is that of the Cambridge Skull. A minister was murdered, you see, but his head never stopped screaming, even after he died. The murderers finally gagged the skull and buried it in a block of cement to attempt to muffle it, but if you listen closely, it can still be heard. If you're one of the lucky ones to hear it, the story goes, you'll never get the sound out of your head and will likely be driven insane.

bachelor4. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Chicagoland. This cemetery isn't only home to apparitions of people - apparitions of an entire house have been reported by a startling number of people who can all identify a similar white farmhouse with pillars and a porch swing. Bachelor's Grove also has "evidence" of the paranormal - the picture to the left was taken in 1991 and has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times. What do you think - altered picture? Other strange reports from Bachelor's Grove have included unexplained lights, faces in the mist and faces that appear on tombstones only to disappear shortly thereafter.
5. Howard Street Cemetary, Salem, Massachusetts. With its witch hunt history, it seems safe to assume that Salem is probably one of the most haunted places in the U.S. The oldest cemetery there is no exception. In fact, one famous resident of the grounds wasn't just buried there - he died there too. Giles Corey was the only person to die by torture during the Witch Trials. Corey refused to admit guilt or innocence regarding his use of witchcraft, because either way he answered would allow city officials to take his property. So the sheriff made Corey lie down in a hole in the middle of the field and then added stones to a board placed across his chest. More stones were slowly added until Corey was eventually crushed to death two days later. Now Corey is said to appear in the cemetery right before tragedy strikes the town; he was supposedly seen just days before the Great Fire of 1914.

6. Resurrection Cemetery, Chicago. Between this and Bachelor's Grove, Chicago's a scary place to be! I know you've heard this ghost story before, and this might be the place it originated: many years ago, a girl was walking home one night after a dance. She was hit and killed by a car, and has spent the last 80 years hitchhiking to the cemetery. When a kindly driver accepts and pulls up to drop her off at the gates, she vanishes. In Chicago, this gal is called Resurrection Mary. Many people have reported seeing her or almost hitting her in the road, and some people have even claimed to have picked her up. While it sounds like one of those urban legends, there may be an element of truth - in 1927, a girl named Anna Norkus did die in a car accident on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom.

7. Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, Pa., might be one of the only places where you can experience a ghost smell. Because so many died at the Battle of Gettysburg, it was impossible to clear the bodies and get them buried in a timely fashion. As you can imagine, the stench would have been awful. For quite some time after, people couldn't walk near Cemetery Hill without something to mask the stink of death, so they dipped handkerchiefs in peppermint and vanilla and held the cloth to their noses. To this day, some people report smelling peppermint at Cemetery Hill.

boothill8. Boot Hill, Tombstone, Arizona. You might think Deadwood's Boot Hill would boast the most ghosts - after all, it's home to Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock, among others. But it's Boot Hill in Tombstone that has the photographic "evidence" of ghosts. To me this one definitely looks like a Photoshop job, but maybe you can tell me otherwise. A tourist was taking a picture of his friend in Old West gear at Boot Hill and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary until the film was developed, revealing a man in a cowboy hat who appeared to be rising out of the ground. You can see it to the left, or zoom in here. What do you think?

9. Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles. Hollywood just lends itself to ghost stories, doesn't it? So many broken dreams and scandals. And a lot of them seem to have ended up at Hollywood Forever. Some of the ghosts that have been seen include Clifton Webb, Virginia Rappe (the girl at the center of the Fatty Arbuckle murder/rape scandal), and William Randolph Hearst. Now, Hearst isn't actually buried at Hollywood Forever, but people have reported seeing him visiting the grave of his old mistress, Marion Davies.

10. Union Cemetery in Easton, Ct. This cemetery is an oldie dating back to the 1600s, so it's easy to believe that it could be haunted. The graveyard is also known as the White Lady Cemetery because of the famous ghost that reportedly haunts it. As you might suspect, a mysterious ghost adorned in white roams the grounds of the cemetery and sometimes even ventures beyond the gates a bit and into the road. Like Resurrection Mary, drivers have reported "hitting" her when she appeared out of nowhere in the road. Other people have told stories of a set of red eyes peering at them from the confines of a bush or a tree.

When I was growing up, high school kids (me included) loved to freak themselves out at an ancient cemetery and church called Mars Hill. It was way out in the country, which makes it extra-scary. You even had to cross a Crybaby Bridge to get to it. Do you have a cemetery of local legend near you? Let's hear your most chilling tales in the comments.

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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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