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11 Things That Have No Business Being Lip Balms

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Sure, everyone’s tried cherry or mint lip balms, but why settle for bland when you can go for bizarre? Here are 11 of the weirdest lip gloss flavors ever. Some of them might seem tasty, but still, the idea is just plain weird.

1. Peeps

If you just can’t get enough Peeps, you can always go ahead and enjoy vanilla marshmallow Peeps lip gloss all year round.

2. Corndogs

Corn dogs are delicious, but without the delightful accentuation of ketchup and mustard, would you really want to bother with this battery balm?

3. Paula Deen

If you think that everything tastes better with butter, you’ll probably enjoy the flavor on your lips as well. Well, Paula Deen, the world’s most famous butter aficionado, is here for you with her own butter-flavored lip balm.

4. Cheetos

If you’ve always yearned for a way to enjoy the cheesy deliciousness of Cheetos without ending up with all of that bright orange residue all over your fingers, maybe this balm is just what you’ve been dreaming of all these years.

5. Bacon That's Safe for Vegetarians

Everyone loves bacon, right? So why not rub the sweet taste of America’s favorite smoked pork product over your mouth? And because this is made by the same guys responsible for Bacon Salt and Baconnaise, it’s both vegetarian and kosher.

6. Buttered Popcorn

It might be against the rules to smuggle your own food into the movie theater, but no one can stop you from carrying in your own Pop Secret Buttered Popcorn Lip Balm. No word on how this compares to Ms. Deen’s buttery lip gloss.

7. French Fries

If you love french fries but want to bypass all those empty calories, this lip gloss might be the next best thing.

8. Nachos

Or maybe it's nacho residue that your lips have been missing.

9. Cheez-It

Has anyone ever actually thought to themselves, “I wish I could just rub Cheez-It’s all over my lips every day?” Well, even if they have, they might be disappointed with the actual flavor of this one, which is described as being sweet like cereal with a touch of butter and a very subtle cheesy flavor in the background.

10. Absinthe

Any real absinthe drinker knows the flavor of the liquor is only secondary to the effects. That’s why this absinthe lip balm seems a bit silly.

11. Dill Pickles

Sometimes you just want to grab a handful of dill pickles and rub them all over your lips.

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There are plenty more weird lip gloss flavors out there, some that sound tasty, like the Girl Scout ones, and many that sound gross, like those above. What was the weirdest you’ve ever come across? Did you actually try it?

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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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]

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