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10 Cocktails Named After Famous People

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If you want to add a little celebrity pizazz to your tipple, try one of these 10 cocktails named after famous people.

1. The John Daly

© Mitchell Gunn/Icon SMI/Corbis

You’ve probably seen this golf joke before, but it still makes us chuckle. A John Daly is an Arnold Palmer (sweet tea and lemonade) with a shot of vodka added to live up to Daly’s party-animal reputation.

2. The Mary Pickford

The silent film star was known as “Little Mary,” but this drink can pack a big punch if you knock back a few. It’s light rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and maraschino cherry juice shaken with ice and served in a cocktail glass.

3. The Jean Harlow

Hollywood’s original platinum blonde charmed audiences, and a few of these tipples will make anyone feel more charming. A Jean Harlow consists of light rum shaken with sweet vermouth and served with a lemon peel garnish.

4. The David Bowie

Portland microdistillery New Deal named this drink after Ziggy Stardust. It’s five parts chocolate liqueur and one part bourbon, stirred together on the rocks and garnished with an orange wedge.

5. Rimbaud’s Left Hand

Stephen Cole of Chicago’s awesome Violet Hour concocted this drink to honor French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who was shot in the hand by his lover, Paul Verlaine. The drink includes Pernod absinthe, Benedictine, Aperol orange liqueur, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and egg white, and rosewater.

6. Will Rogers

The screen cowboy had a quick wit, and while we’d watch his vaudeville act, we’re not sure we’d want to down his drink. A Will Rogers cocktail includes gin, dry vermouth, orange juice, and a few dashes of curacao.

7. Beau Brummel

Brummel may have been the arbiter of men’s fashion in 19th century London, but that doesn’t mean we’d trust him to make us a drink. This one is bourbon, Prunella (a plum-flavored liqueur), orange juice, and sugar shaken with ice and served in a cocktail glass.

8. The Douglas Fairbanks

Another early movie star, Fairbanks was known as “the King of Hollywood,” and his name is now on a modified martini. It includes Plymouth gin, French vermouth, and both orange and lemon peel.

9. The Joan Collins

The Dynasty star’s name also refers to a concoction of vodka, grapefruit juice, sugar, and club soda all served in a Collins glass, of course.

10. The Eliot Spritzer

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer may have left the governor’s mansion in disgrace, but at least he got a drink named after him at New York’s Hill Country restaurant. It’s pinot grigio, Chambord, a Serrano pepper, soda water, and a twist of lime.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
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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Live Smarter
Working Nights Could Keep Your Body from Healing
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iStock

The world we know today relies on millions of people getting up at sundown to go put in a shift on the highway, at the factory, or in the hospital. But the human body was not designed for nocturnal living. Scientists writing in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine say working nights could even prevent our bodies from healing damaged DNA.

It’s not as though anybody’s arguing that working in the dark and sleeping during the day is good for us. Previous studies have linked night work and rotating shifts to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and car accidents. In 2007, the World Health Organization declared night work “probably or possibly carcinogenic.”

So while we know that flipping our natural sleep/wake schedule on its head can be harmful, we don’t completely know why. Some scientists, including the authors of the current paper, think hormones have something to do with it. They’ve been exploring the physiological effects of shift work on the body for years.

For one previous study, they measured workers’ levels of 8-OH-dG, which is a chemical byproduct of the DNA repair process. (All day long, we bruise and ding our DNA. At night, it should fix itself.) They found that people who slept at night had higher levels of 8-OH-dG in their urine than day sleepers, which suggests that their bodies were healing more damage.

The researchers wondered if the differing 8-OH-dG levels could be somehow related to the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate our body clocks. They went back to the archived urine from the first study and identified 50 workers whose melatonin levels differed drastically between night-sleeping and day-sleeping days. They then tested those workers’ samples for 8-OH-dG.

The difference between the two sleeping periods was dramatic. During sleep on the day before working a night shift, workers produced only 20 percent as much 8-OH-dG as they did when sleeping at night.

"This likely reflects a reduced capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage due to insufficient levels of melatonin,” the authors write, “and may result in cells harbouring higher levels of DNA damage."

DNA damage is considered one of the most fundamental causes of cancer.

Lead author Parveen Bhatti says it’s possible that taking melatonin supplements could help, but it’s still too soon to tell. This was a very small study, the participants were all white, and the researchers didn't control for lifestyle-related variables like what the workers ate.

“In the meantime,” Bhatti told Mental Floss, “shift workers should remain vigilant about following current health guidelines, such as not smoking, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep and exercise.”

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