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18 Outlandish Uses of Real and Fake Body Parts on Etsy

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For millennia, artists have been using the human body as a source of inspiration. Many of the creative minds selling through Etsy continue the tradition. Here are some of the more innovative uses of the human body, actual and symbolic, available for purchase on Etsy. 

1. Universal Man Alien Planter

A single houseplant can be a soothing addition to any room. If you’re completely bereft of vision and joie de vivre, that is. Now, a houseplant erupting from a green man’s stomach, that is some serious home décor. 

2. Authentic 1945 Human Bone Dust

I’ve been burned by cut-rate human bone dust purchases before. My serums come out flat and my enchantments hardly ever last more than a day. This is the real deal. The village’s well water is going to stay poisoned this time. 

3. Yelling Doll Head Planter

“Yeow! I am Jimmy Jack, a new yelling doll head planter.” Jimmy Jack’s desperate screams that no one will ever hear is a cathartic addition to any office cubicle. 

4. Kicking Sexy Legs and Pirate Bookmarks

Arr, she’s a saucy wench sure enough. But no one escapes the Dread Pirate Norton’s Anthology of English Literature. 

5. Embroidery with Human Hair

Joking aside, hair art used to be a real thing, a way to remember loved ones before photographs were readily available. Of all the crafts on this list, this is one of the prettiest uses of human refuse that I’ve ever seen. 

6. Human Teeth Earrings

I don’t want to talk about these. It might upset the artists. I don’t want to be jewelry.

7. Baby Hand Soap

Here is the thing about soap. It dissolves. As you use this, the little fingers are going to start to melt off and the forearm will shrivel. Soon you’ll be left with just these tragic little limbs, grasping at the emptiness of infinity in your shower. 

8. Baby Leg Salt Shakers

If Etsy is any indication, humanity has an unquenchable desire to accessorize their homes with baby parts. I imagine this is a reflection of our primitive brain’s desire to ensure the continuation of the species. I’m sure it has nothing to do with us being ghouls.  

9. Glow in the Dark Intestine Earrings

Hey, teachers wear school-themed bracelets. Nurses wear medical-themed necklaces. There is no reason why proctologists can’t show pride in their work, too. Big twisted slick colon pride! That glows in the dark!

10. Crawling Baby Ring

Overly Attached Girlfriend accessorizes.  

11. "Who Nose" Hand Carved Olive Wood Statue

You’ll want to look at it sideways. Sideways it looks like a huge nose, with an eyeball, which is just great. Don’t look at it front-on. Front-on it looks like a different body part, and … somehow gets way more creepy.

12. Placenta Print

Let us be fair. It’s got a certain beauty. It does look like a Tree of Life, and it is a unique way to preserve the memory of your child’s entrance into the world. But it’s also art made from uterine expulsion. Which this particular artist will then grind up for clients to eat. Are you Mom enough for this? Sissy epidural lovin’ hospital birthers need not apply.

13. Cervix Brooch

Look at that little cutie! If I’d known my cervix was that adorable I’d have had it photographed and silkscreened on a T-shirt long ago! 

14. Happy Uterus

You can order it with or without flow. I find the flow depiction grossly inadequate. For one thing it should come with tiny windup cramp gnomes that punch and bite it. And a hidden audio box that plays the sound of a woman crying over a Hallmark commercial.

15. Creepy Toe Necklace

Worn in memory of frostbite survivors and stub victims everywhere. 

16. Gene the Spleen

Before I found this listing, I didn’t know what a spleen actually did. I still don’t know exactly what function a plush version of a spleen might serve. But I do know this: I love Gene the Spleen. Every moment I live apart from Gene the Spleen is an eternity of emptiness, wherein I feel neither lean nor clean.    

17. Ear Earrings

Do you sometimes get confused about which jewelry is supposed to hang off which body part? Your troubles are over.

18. Booby Ear Muffs

Give these to Grandma. Tell her you made them yourself. That they represent the bubeyz, a traditional Christmas cake. Then take pictures. Lots and lots of Christmas pictures. Because you have the coolest Nanna ever. 

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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
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]