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The Late Movies: Covers of Morrissey & The Smiths

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I'm a longtime Morrissey fan. From the first time I heard The Queen is Dead by Morrissey's band The Smiths in the 80's, I was hooked. Morrissey's music is generally very maudlin (if not straight-up depressing), but somehow it's also hopeful and sweet. Below I have collected some terrific covers of songs by Morrissey and Smiths for your mope-rock enjoyment.

"There Is a Light..." -Neil Finn & Johnny Marr

Neil Finn of Crowded House is joined by Johnny Marr (of The Smiths and lately of Modest Mouse) in this terrific cover of a classic Smiths tune. Sample lyrics: "To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die."

"Everyday is Like Sunday" -Colin Meloy

Colin Meloy of The Decembrists does a solo acoustic cover of Morrissey's classic beach song, which Meloy calls "a sad campfire song...the campfire is in danger of being put out by your tears." Sample lyrics: "Every day is silent and gray. ... Come, come, nuclear bomb."

"The Headmaster Ritual" -Radiohead

Performed live on the band's webcast, 9 November 2007. Sample lyrics: "Billigerent ghouls run Manchester schools."

"The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get" -Josh Ackerman of The Mickey Mouse Club

Utterly awful. Sample lyrics: "Beware; I bear more grudges than lonely high court judges."

"Ask" -Brett Johnson

My all-time favorite Smiths song. Sample lyrics: "If there's something you'd like to try, ask me, I won't say no; how could I? Spending long summer days indoors, writing frightening verse to a bucktoothed girl in Luxembourg...."

"Girlfriend in a Coma" -Josh Radin

Sample lyrics: "Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know it's really serious."

"Panic" -Sweet and Tender Hooligans

There's apparently a Morrissey/The Smiths tribute band. Who knew? Sample lyrics: "Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ."

Post Your Favorites in the Comments

There are TONS MORE of these in the wild. Please post links 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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