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The Quick 10: George George and 9 Other Reduplicated Names

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When people with first name surnames (Aaron, Thomas, etc.) have a child and decide to basically name that child their surname for a first name as well, is it because they think it’s funny? Do they think it has a nice ring to it? Or are they just unimaginative? Whatever their reasoning is, here are 10 guys who have really similar first and last names.

1. George W. George has a pretty interesting story. He was born George Goldberg, as in Rube Goldberg, who was his dad. Rube received a lot of hate mail because of his political cartoons and asked his two sons to change their last names so if some crazed person decided to retaliate against him, they would be unable to locate his family. His sons agreed, and Thomas Goldberg chose the last name George to honor his brother. George wanted to keep the family together at least a little bit, so he too took the surname of George. George W. George was a Broadway and film producer.

2. William Williams. There are quite a few William Williamses, actually – there’s the artist who painted the official portraits of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; there’s William Williams the ex-surgeon general; there’s William Williams the Pulitzer Prize winner; and there’s William Williams the Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams’ full name is William December Williams). And that’s just to name a scant few. Perhaps naming your child William Williams ensures a great career?

3. John Johns was the 15th president at the College of William and Mary and was also the fourth Episcopal bishop of the state of Virginia.

4. Gordon Gordon was one half of a novel-writing duo; the other half consisted of his wife, Mildred Gordon. They wrote mostly crime fiction, which was appropriate since Gordon also served as an FBI counter-intelligence officer during WWII. While their bibliography is quite extensive, you might know them best for Undercover Cat - it was retitled when Disney bought the rights and filmed it as That Darn Cat.

5. Khaled Khaled. Perhaps better known as DJ Khaled, this musician has put out five albums and worked with the likes of Akon, T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne (and about a million more). Anyway, he was born Khaled Khaled, which makes his professional name pretty tidy – you could be referring to his first name or his surname and it doesn’t really matter.

6. Edward Edwards is a character actor who has been in pretty much everything. House, CSI, Criminal Minds, Boston Legal, Without a Trace, Desperate Housewives, NYPD Blue, JAG, Monk, Judging Amy, 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the list goes on. I guarantee he’s one of those, “Hey, it’s that guy!” guys to many people.

7. Robert Roberts was the first commercially-published African American in the U.S. His book? The House Servant’s Directory. Roberts later became a well-known abolitionist in Boston, famous for his fervent lobbying for equal school rights for children.

8. James James was a musician who wrote the music for the Welsh national anthem. He was also a politician aspiring to be the governor of Wisconsin up until last week.

9. Thomas T. Thomas, who also went by Thomas Wren, is a science fiction author. Other Thomas Thomases include a boxer, a thoracic surgeon and a Welsh cleric.

10. Richard Richards is a former NASA astronaut who commanded the Space Shuttle Discovery. Another Richard Richards was the Chairman of the Republican National Party from 1981-1983.

An extra fun fact for you: Wilson from Home Improvement was Wilson Wilson. So, are you someone with a reduplicated name? Do you know someone with one? What’s your take on the whole thing?

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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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]