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The Quick 10: 10 Famous Student Sections in College Basketball

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I went to my first Duke game last week, and I have to say - I was impressed. The fans were pretty amazing. The Cameron Crazies have been repeatedly ranked as the best student section in college sports, but there are definitely some other frenzied fans out there trying to give them a run for their money. Here are nine of them in no particular order (and a bit about the Crazies themselves).

1. The Grateful Red. The Red root for the Badgers, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s men’s basketball team, and they do it in style - many of the 2,100 seats in the student section are filled with people wearing red tie-dyed t-shirts. Before taking their name from a certain band, the Red were known as Mr. Bennett’s Neighborhood for former coach Dick Bennett.

2. The Antlers. I think my favorite part about the Antlers is that their nickname really has nothing to do with Mizzou. They were so-named because a dance they performed at the games resembled one Lily Tomlin did on Saturday Night Live where she stuck fingers up on either side of her head as if she had antlers.

3. The Cameron Crazies. Named after Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke’s Crazies have been called the wittiest fans in college sports. Their well-researched chants are legendary, but they can also claim the generic-but-classic “airball” cheer now used everywhere.

4. The Bench. The members of the California Golden Bears student squad are probably best known for the prank they pulled in 2006. Before the game against USC, members of the Bench IMed USC’s Gabe Pruitt, posing as a gorgeous girl from UCLA named Victoria. Pruitt sent “Victoria” pictures and phone numbers, not realizing his mistake until the Bench began chanting “Victoria, Victoria,” totally ruining his game.

5. eRUPPtion Zone. Ashley Judd is known to hang out in the University of Kentucky’s standing-room-only student section, which is named after Rupp Arena. Fans once made a giant poster of an opponent player’s Playboy Playmate girlfriend, keeping it PG by strategically placing a UK logo.

6. The Orange Krush. The Illini’s fans are tricky - one attack they have up their collective sleeve is to count down the opposing team’s shot clock as if time is running out even if it’s not... and it works like a charm.

7. The Oakland Zoo. Before every game, the student newspaper issues a four-page report on Pitt and their opponents, so fans can come up with proper insults. They also use the newspapers at the game to act like they’re so bored with the other team, they’d rather be checking their horoscopes. They got their name when one opponent noted, "The fans get there early to start heckling you. It's like a zoo."

8. Utah State. I don’t think their student section has a cool nickname (do they?), but they’re formidable just the same. In fact, just the other day, USU’s student section sang “I’m a Little Teapot” to distract the foul shooter. And it totally worked:

9. The Paint Crew. Purdue’s supporters are named for the Boilermakers head coach, Matt Painter. Before, when Gene Keady was the top dog, they called themselves the Gene Pool. Not bad, Purdue... not bad. They're dedicated fans, too - when members of the paint crew showed up in D.C. decked out as if they were ready to apply a few new coats to the White House, they made the Washington Post.

10. The Dawg Pack. Washington students are so hardcore that even unflappable coaches just can’t resist flipping out... or flipping them the bird, as Washington State’s head coach did in 2005 when students started chanting “boring” at his team.

This is by no means an official ranking - just some of the more interesting ones I read about. Feel free to add yours in the comments!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]