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11 Patron Saints for Your Modern-Day Calamities

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There are plenty of saints that cater to modern-day issues if you know where to look. 

1. The Patron Saint of Phantom Cell Phone Vibrations - Gabriel the Archangel

You’ve been there: the panicky moments pawing through your purse or stuffed coat pockets for your vibrating phone, only to finally locate it and realize that you had completely hallucinated the entire thing. To ensure that such a minor irritant never happens again, dial up Gabriel the Archangel, the patron saint of telephones and telecommunications. He’s the saint of these things thanks to his role as messenger from God to humans, which is either way easier or a whole lot harder now that we have text messaging.

2. The Patron Saint of Etsy - St. Luke

Did you get a bad review from a disgruntled buyer? Stiffed by someone whose credit card was rejected after you already dropped their cardboard moose head in the mail? Pray to St. Luke, the patron of craftworkers, which encompasses everything from lace makers to sculptors. If you want to get even more specific, Saint Brieuc is the patron saint of purse makers, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin answers to the calls of ribbon makers and Celestine V is the patron saint of bookbinders.

3. The Patron Saint of Questionable TV Plots - Clare of Assisi

When you're convinced that the writers of your favorite show are steering the characters in directions they would never really go (looking at you, Ryan Murphy), pray to Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of television writers. Clare is the saint of all things TV-related because she once saw and heard Christmas mass even though it was taking place miles away from the bed she was confined to.

4. The Patron Saint of Cracked iPhone Screens - Clare of Assisi

Likewise, turn to Clare when your iPhone has just landed facedown on the concrete thanks to your toddler’s fit of rage over that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood app you accidentally deleted. Clare’s prowess over all things screen-related may just mean your glass will be intact when you retrieve Siri from the ground.

5. The Patron Saint of Sore Eyes - St. Augustine of Hippo

If, like many of us, you suffer from eye fatigue at the end of a long day of looking at spreadsheets, Word docs and Gawker, look no further than St. Augustine of Hippo, who is (very specifically) the patron saint of pooped peepers.

6. The Patron Saint of Homebrew - St. Augustine of Hippo

Before he “converted from a life of loose living,” old Augie was quite the playboy. It’s said that he finally abandoned his heathen ways by suddenly turning to a similarly hard-partying buddy and announcing, “Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!"

If you’re still rolling around in the mud of your sins by concocting delicious homebrewed hop juice, give a shout out to Augustine of Hippo to ensure your next batch is top notch. Just make sure it’s Augustine of Hippo. There are at least a dozen St. Augustines and you really don’t want to mess up your brew.

7. The Patron Saint of Lost Keys - Saint Zita of Lucca

Lost your damn car keys again? Misplaced the key to your desk drawer at work? Or perhaps you’ve found yourself in an embarrassing situation. Say a quick prayer to Zita, who, as a teenager, was entrusted with the keys to the house where she was a maid. Incidentally, Zita is also the patron to servants.

Her corpse is considered incorruptible by the Catholic Church, so pay a visit to Zita the next time you’re in Lucca, Italy.

8. The Patron Saint of Wikipedia - St. Isidore of Seville

If you’re reading something on Wikipedia that you’re pretty sure is completely false, turn to Isidore of Seville for guidance. Not only is he the patron saint of the Internet, he was so-named because of his prolific writings, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths and a history of the world beginning with creation. We’re pretty sure an archiver like that wouldn’t stand for Wikipedia shenanigans.

9. The Patron Saint of Lost Luggage - St. Anthony of Padua

With the help of Anthony of Padua, you’ll never leave the airport empty-handed again. Anthony’s renown for finding lost things actually happened long after he died: When a relic of his went mysteriously missing, Anthony’s followers prayed that it would be returned safely. A “novice” was then motivated to return the prayer book after receiving visions of an angry Anthony. Quick, everyone start praying for the rescue of Hoggle.

10. The Patron Saint of Oversleeping - St. Vitus

Do you have the tendency to sleep through your alarm? Or, like me, simply turn it off while you’re still 95 percent asleep? Give a nod to St. Vitus, though his tie to oversleeping is both thin and disturbing. When the teenage convert to Christianity was thrown into a pot of boiling oil as punishment for his religious preference, a rooster was added to the cauldron as part of the sacrifice. The bird has since become a symbol for Vitus, hence his interest in helping you get to work on time.

Vitus is also connected to epidemic dancing.

11. The Patron Saint of Bloggers - St. Expeditus

There are a handful of saints out there who might pay attention to the pleas of a stressed-out blogger. St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, authors and journalists, would probably lend an ear to your cause. But my personal go-to would be St. Expeditus, the patron of all things procrastination. Legend has it that Expeditus was confronted by a crow (the devil in disguise, of course) the day he decided to convert to Christianity. “Do it tomorrow,” the crow said, “Today you can read a bunch of gossip blogs and watch an obscene amount of HGTV.” But Expeditus would not be deterred, saying, “I’ll be a Christian today!”

This post originally appeared last year.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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© Nintendo
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.