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Wikimedia Commons

11 Bad Jokes and Other Deleted Nonsense: Best of Wikipedia

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Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia maintains a catalog of Bad Jokes and Other Deleted Nonsense (BJAODN) -- it's the best of the worst stuff added to Wikipedia. Here, I present 11 excellent pieces of dumb humor that was deleted from Wikipedia...but then retained on a best-of page, because it's just that bad good.

1. Water on Mars

On April 1, 2004 a Wikipedia user discovered shocking proof -- photographic proof -- of water on Mars. The photograph was posted to the heart-laden article "♥Water on Mars♥" and the image is still retained (Creative Commons license and all) on Wikipedia, though it carries this bold warning: "This is a very bad joke. We believe it to be one of the most humorous examples of the Wikipedia community's work."
 
A Wikipedia editor commented: "Evidently, there is also glass and a plastic wrapper and now MY JAWS!"

2. The Cross-Eyed Teacher

Wikipedia's Pupil page had this section inserted:

Q. Why was the teacher cross-eyed?
A. Because she couldn't control her pupils.

Wikipedia editors followed up with:

[edit: This is incredibly not funny.]
[edit edit: That's why it's funny.]

3. CPGM

A little Physics humor:

The Coalition to Prevent Gratuitous Misuse (CPGM) was organized in 1901 to protest the (then) common misuse of the word weight to mean mass. The movement gained momentum (defined as the vector product of its velocity and mass) when SI was officially adopted in place of metric system, which no longer carried its weight. This movement captured the imagination of the mass of scientists througout the world, although the general public remained unmoved, since a body at rest tends to remain at rest (see Newton's Laws).

Editors added:

this should never have been deleted, it is a work of genious (edit: I think you mean "genius," genius.)

4. Y0-Y0 Ma

Y0-Y0 Ma is not to confused with Yo-Yo Ma, the famous cellist. Apparently Y0-Y0 is a nonhuman actor. Okay, just read this glimpse into some Wikipedian's madness (and/or sense of humor):

Y0-Y0 Ma plays Yo-Yo Ma, who lives in the human universe. Y0-Y0 Ma was born on Availy 32, 123456789, so he is 40 years, 13 months, 5 weeks, and 8 days old as of Verely 0, 987654321. He was born in Culombos of District, Wishongtan, Amerigan Union of Soviet Capitalist Tribes.

About the actor

Y0-Y0 Ma is an actor who enjoys playing nonexistant creatures. Of all the beings he had played, his favorite are the humans. He enjoys playing them, because they aren't that sophisticated, so he doesn't have to be. Of course, no one understands what he's saying when he is acting, because all the actors speak in Humanish language for "authenticity". His favorite character, Yo-Yo Ma, is a parody on his name.

Y0-Y0 Ma currently resides in Los Diablos, Jaba Nacilofria, A.U.S.C.T.

5. A Tip on Cow Tipping

This briefly appeared on the Cow Tipping page (emphasis added):

Tip #2

If you succeed in tipping a cow only partway, such that only one of its feet is still on the ground, you have created lean beef. Such a feat is well done. Naturally, being outside, the cow is unstable. When it falls over, it becomes ground beef.

An editor then inserted: "Such quality of humor is rare."

6. The Drummer Joke

"Someone who hangs out with musicians." (Briefly appeared as a definition on the Drummer page.)

7. Th'u~nks

Presented without comment:

Th'u~nks as a religion, was born when two prophets — known as the Two Great Piephits by practitioners of the religion — discussed the greatness, and spiritual meaning that can be found in the humble pie, particularly the pukka (pronounced "puck-ah") variety. Currently it has believers in countries around the globe.

Origins

In the year 2006 CE the Piephits were discussing the benefits of the pie over other pastry based savoury foods, when they were struck by a joint moment of revelation. This moment, known as The Pievation, was believed to be the moment when the Master Baker showed the true meaning of pastry, and consequently life to the Two Great Piephits. From this they jointly established the main underlying tenet of the religion, that of B'heegery and thus Th'u~nks was born.

This continues for quite a while.

8. Alternative Rock/Missing the Point

The page for Alternative rock featured this alternate definition, including an apparently sincere attempt by an editor to make sure it was properly sourced:

Alternative rock is the name given to one stone when you're looking at another stone. The term was coined by photographer Edwin Blastocyst when looking at one stone and speaking about another, oddly enough.

     The quote from Edwin Blastocyst needs to be verified.

          (Note: I'm not sure Blastocyst was a real person, considering that "blastocyst" is a stage of embryonic growth.)

9. Voltaic Democratic Union

The Voltaic Democratic Union, which is actually a thing, started out as a "stub page" (starting point) featuring the text: "Shocking, just shocking!"

10. Baby Catapult

From the now-deleted "Baby Catapult" page:

The Baby Catapult is an invention of insane genius Maxwell Q. Infantlauncher of Indianapolis, Indiana. It is not meant to launch actual infants; it is meant to launch Cabbage Patch Kids and the sort. The goal is for them to go 100 feet in the air, and 500 feet along the ground. The catapult should be finished by mid-2004.

An editor noted: "I, for one, am disappointed."

11. C is for Cookie

This mini-essay on the rhetorical form of Cookie Monster's discourse was added to the page C is for Cookie and then, sadly, removed.

C is for Cookie can be regarded as a case study in persuasive oratory, emphasizing the emotional aspect of public speaking. Cookie Monster builds excitement by answering his opening rhetorical question, "Now what starts with the letter C?" with the obvious reply, "Cookie starts with C!" He then challenges the audience, "Let's think of other things that starts with C," before quickly replying, "Oh, who cares about the other things?" casually dismissing a whole range of other possibilities as irrelevant. Thus, having ostensibly come for the purpose of covering the letter C in its entirety, Cookie Monster has already focused his agenda exclusively on cookies, employing the classic bait and switch tactic. Several times in his presentation, Cookie Monster emphasizes what appears to be the central thesis of his remarks: "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me!" The appealing rhythm of this slogan appears designed to entrance listeners, swaying their emotions and making them instinctively want to chant along with him. After rousing the crowd, Cookie Monster systematically lays out the logical underpinnings of his pro-cookie ideology, comparing cookies to round donuts with one bite out of them and to the moon during its crescent phase, in essence using a straw man argument that implies his opponents would advocate the superiority of these competitors over cookies. In this sense, Cookie Monster may be proposing a false dichotomy representing cookies as the only viable choice to a group of obviously inferior alternatives. But before the audience has a chance to catch on, Cookie Monster launches into another round of repetitive chanting, "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me, yeah!" as young children sing along. Here, Cookie Monster uses a propaganda technique strikingly similar to that employed in George Orwell's Animal Farm by the pig Napoleon, who trained the farm's sheep to bleat, "Four legs good, two legs bad" on his cue. Cookie Monster then adds visual stimulation to his discourse by chomping into a large cookie, concluding his remarks with "Umm-umm-umm-umm-umm" and other chewing sounds.

Another addition was an entire section titled Other Things Starting with the Letter C, including Carrot, Crabcakes, and Cucumber.

Way, Way More

There's a whole page of this, and it includes links to several more "best of BJAODN" lists. One of my favorites in those extra lists is a spoiler-filled plot summary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (with philosophical commentary).

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
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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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Stephen Missal
crime
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New Evidence Emerges in Norway’s Most Famous Unsolved Murder Case
May 22, 2017
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A 2016 sketch by a forensic artist of the Isdal Woman
Stephen Missal

For almost 50 years, Norwegian investigators have been baffled by the case of the “Isdal Woman,” whose burned corpse was found in a valley outside the city of Bergen in 1970. Most of her face and hair had been burned off and the labels in her clothes had been removed. The police investigation eventually led to a pair of suitcases stuffed with wigs and the discovery that the woman had stayed at numerous hotels around Norway under different aliases. Still, the police eventually ruled it a suicide.

Almost five decades later, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has launched a new investigation into the case, working with police to help track down her identity. And it is already yielding results. The BBC reports that forensic analysis of the woman’s teeth show that she was from a region along the French-German border.

In 1970, hikers discovered the Isdal Woman’s body, burned and lying on a remote slope surrounded by an umbrella, melted plastic bottles, what may have been a passport cover, and more. Her clothes and possessions were scraped clean of any kind of identifying marks or labels. Later, the police found that she left two suitcases at the Bergen train station, containing sunglasses with her fingerprints on the lenses, a hairbrush, a prescription bottle of eczema cream, several wigs, and glasses with clear lenses. Again, all labels and other identifying marks had been removed, even from the prescription cream. A notepad found inside was filled with handwritten letters that looked like a code. A shopping bag led police to a shoe store, where, finally, an employee remembered selling rubber boots just like the ones found on the woman’s body.

Eventually, the police discovered that she had stayed in different hotels all over the country under different names, which would have required passports under several different aliases. This strongly suggests that she was a spy. Though she was both burned alive and had a stomach full of undigested sleeping pills, the police eventually ruled the death a suicide, unable to track down any evidence that they could tie to her murder.

But some of the forensic data that can help solve her case still exists. The Isdal Woman’s jaw was preserved in a forensic archive, allowing researchers from the University of Canberra in Australia to use isotopic analysis to figure out where she came from, based on the chemical traces left on her teeth while she was growing up. It’s the first time this technique has been used in a Norwegian criminal investigation.

The isotopic analysis was so effective that the researchers can tell that she probably grew up in eastern or central Europe, then moved west toward France during her adolescence, possibly just before or during World War II. Previous studies of her handwriting have indicated that she learned to write in France or in another French-speaking country.

Narrowing down the woman’s origins to such a specific region could help find someone who knew her, or reports of missing women who matched her description. The case is still a long way from solved, but the search is now much narrower than it had been in the mystery's long history.

[h/t BBC]

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