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"A Nun Suit Painted on Some Old Boxes" and 71 Other Great Frank Zappa Song Titles

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The late Frank Zappa would have turned 72 today. Even if you don’t know much about Zappa, you may be aware of his penchant for creative naming. He famously named his four children the following:

- Moon Unit
- Dweezil
- Ahmet Emuukha Rodan
- Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen

Zappa also had a habit of giving his musical creations memorable titles. So let’s celebrate his 72nd birthday with a list of his 72 best song titles.

1. "A Nun Suit Painted on Some Old Boxes"
2. "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet"
3. "Half a Dozen Provocative Squats"
4. "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Momma"
5. "The Girl Wants to Fix Him Some Broth"
6. "Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Corduroy Ponce"
7. "Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin"
8. "Son of Suzy Creamcheese"
9. "Harry, You're a Beast"
10. "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?"

11. "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)"
12. "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny"
13. "The Voice of Cheese"
14. "Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague"
15. "Sleeping in a Jar"
16. "Electric Aunt Jemima"
17. "Duke of Prunes"
18. "Hungry Freaks, Daddy"
19. "Willie the Pimp"
20. "It Must Be a Camel"
21. "Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich"
22. "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask"
23. "Toads of the Short Forest"
24. "Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula"
25. "This Town Is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich"
26. "Weasels Ripped My Flesh"
27. "Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink"
28. "Latex Solar Beef"
29. "Lonesome Electric Turkey"
30. "Give Me Some Floor Covering Under This Fat, Floating Sofa"
31. "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)"
32. "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus"
33. "I’m the Slime"
34. "Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow"
35. "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast"
36. "Father O'Blivion"
37. "Stink-Foot"
38. "Penguin in Bondage"
39. "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?"
40. "Evelyn, a Modified Dog"
41. "Sam with the Showing Scalp Flat Top"
42. "Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead"
43. "Man with the Woman Head"
44. "The Illinois Enema Bandit"
45. "Big Leg Emma"
46. "Help, I’m A Rock"
47. "Spider of Destiny"
48. "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution"
49. "Tryin' to Grow a Chin"
50. "Yo' Mama"
51. "Pedro's Dowry"
52. "Naval Aviation in Art?"
53. "Watermelon in Easter Hay"
54. "Soup 'n Old Clothes"
55. "Gee, I Like Your Pants"
56. "Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar"
57. "Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More"
58. "Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar"
59. "Pinocchio's Furniture"
60. "Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear"
61. "Charlie's Enormous Mouth"
62. "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing"
63. "Tink Walks Amok"
64. "The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou"
65. "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats"
66. "The Girl in the Magnesium Dress"
67. "Hot-Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel"
68. "In-A-Gadda-Stravinsky"
69. "That's Not Really Reggae"
70. "Orrin Hatch on Skis"
71. "Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk"
72. "The Living Garbage Truck"

My favorites: 3, 12, 16, 22, 30, 55, 62, and 70. What are yours?

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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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