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7 Schools Where Streaking Is An Organized Sport

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At some schools, stripping down is a serious sport. Here are seven colleges that place streaking on par with other organized athletic endeavors.

1. Hamilton College

Hamilton College’s varsity streaking team, Streak to Win, is dedicated to destroying the competition with their athletic prowess and, of course, bare skin. Like any sports team, they have plenty of away games. During fall of 2008, the 18-person team launched their tour de force, streaking 12 peer institutions in a five-day span.

2. Dartmouth College

At Dartmouth, ambitious athletes complete the Ledyard Challenge – a brutal test of speed and physical conditioning. Athletes strip down, swim across the Connecticut River to Vermont, and then sprint across the bridge back to New Hampshire. Because streaking is illegal in New Hampshire, athletes have hidden out for hours on the Vermont side of the border — where streaking is a-ok — to avoid being apprehended by the Hanover Police.

3. Denison College

Denison has an entire week in February dedicated to streaking and other naked revelry. Each night of Naked Week has a different theme — formal night, animal night, war paint night, zombie night, etc. — and participants do their best to accessorize accordingly. Naked Week culminates in a frigid, clothes-less Ultimate Frisbee game on Saturday. Students meet on the quad and play until they’re tired or lose sensation in their limbs. Then they return to their rooms and try to figure out how they’re going to explain the embarrassing frostbite to their physicians.

4. Williams College

Williams College in Massachusetts has a large, loosely organized streaking team known as the Springstreakers. Each semester during finals period, team members quietly sneak into the library before going on a rampage, running naked through the stacks and screaming, “Study harder!” In recent years, the team has also streaked freshman orientation, a Psych 101 lecture, countless Super Bowl parties and a Fox News interview with former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift. The team has a few rules that it (mostly) follows: only streak while sober, never streak children, and only streak events worth being streaked/struck/stricken. (Grammar varies by region.)

5. Rice University

At 10 p.m. on the 13th and 31st of every month (or the 26th for months without 31 days), Rice students run around campus wearing nothing but shoes and shaving cream. Each run attracts between 2 and 196 adventurous athletes who streak the campus, fending off attackers armed with water balloons and hoses. The event happens year-round, but Halloween is the most popular — and the most dangerous. In 2008, a student shattered a window while attempting to stamp his buttocks on the pane and had to be rushed to the hospital. This past fall, another student broke the very same window during the Halloween streak.

6. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Like any other Tar Heels game, the bi-annual finals week run draws hundreds of onlookers. Streakers run down each floor of Davis Library, outside into the student union, and then across the courtyard and into the Undergraduate Library, where they sing the alma mater. But the tradition has recently come under fire from its founders, who are angry that the event seems to have lost its shock value. When a Facebook event was created to advertise the streaking, some of the originals left a note at the streakers’ meeting place condemning campus-endorsed streaking as an affront to everything streaking is supposed to be. The debate has raised an important question about the essential nature of the sport: is it really streaking without the element of surprise?

7. Reed College

At Reed College, streaking isn’t just a flippant display of youthful rebellion: it’s war. Each year during the school’s annual fair, a group of Reedies strips down and covers themselves in blue paint in homage to the Picts, a Celtic tribe who supposedly went into battle wearing nothing but blue paint. The Picters launch an attack on their mortal enemy, the Copters, a group of clothed students armed with squirt guns and orange paint. While the Copters pelt the Picters with orange paint, the Picters chase them down and attempt to give them wet, paint-filled hugs.

And two teams that died out . . .

Princeton University’s Nude Olympians

The Nude Olympics, a beloved Tiger tradition for almost a quarter century, used to take place following the first snowfall of each year. Two torch-bearers led the charge of 350 naked students running circles around the courtyard, screaming and cartwheeling and whooping for joy. Though there wasn’t any actual competition, it was still quite a spectacle and regularly drew crowds of 700 or more. Administrators likened the event to Pamplona’s running of the bulls. But after a particularly rowdy ceremony that sent 7 students to the hospital, the Board of Trustees voted to nix the event in 1999.

University of Vermont’s Naked Bikers

Each semester on the last day of classes, UVM students gathered at midnight for a clothes-less extravaganza. Participants rode around a lit, barricaded loop guarded by campus police and student volunteers. While the event was known as the “Naked Bike Ride,” only some of the participants cycled. Others rode skateboards, ran, or pushed shopping carts. But this year, UVM’s president pulled the plug on the event for safety reasons. He also pointed out that the money spent on the event — about $17,000 per semester, which came directly from school funds — could probably be put to better use.

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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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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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