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How 9 Countries Celebrate Father's Day

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ThinkStock

Happy Father’s Day! This year, are you thinking of honoring your pop by wearing pink, drinking Schnapps in the woods and touching his feet with your forehead? Turns out you’re not alone in celebrating this way. 

1. IN THAILAND

Father’s Day in Thailand isn’t until December 5th. And that’s because the day coincides with the birthday of their current king (in this case, Bhumibol Adulyadej). It’s also a recent tradition to wear pink, after King Bhumibol was seen in 2007 leaving a hospital in a pink blazer following a health scare. Another (fading) custom involves Thais giving the gift of a Canna flower to their fathers and grandfathers.

So, if you’re not looking forward to a day of Buds at Applebee’s, do we have an alternative for you!

2. IN RUSSIA

The closest thing to Father’s Day here is Defender of the Fatherland Day, originally established to commemorate the establishment of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. Now observed on February 23rd, it is a day to honor not only those serving in the military, but men in general. Thus, in addition to getting gifts from their children, fathers can sometimes expect gifts from female co-workers. Twice as many ties to not wear!

3. IN NEPAL

The country’s Gokarna Aunsi is not actually celebrated until late summer, and it’s not officially a Father’s Day in the Western sense. In fact, its name literally translates to “cow eared no moon night.” So where does pops factor in? Well, not only does he get some gifts, he is honored to be touched on his feet by his son’s forehead. Hopefully, one of the gifts in question was socks.

4. IN ROMANIA

There’s not much unusual about Father’s Day here … other than there finally is one. Romania is notable in that it was the last EU nation to have a Father’s Day, which wasn’t made official until 2010. This change largely came due to the efforts of a group called TATA, or the Alliance Fighting Discrimination Against Fathers. 

5., 6. and 7. IN ITALY, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

Father’s Day in these predominantly Catholic nations coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph, an observation in honor of guys named Joe, carpenters, things like that. However, since the Feast falls on March 19th, it comes right in the middle of Lent, meaning—gasp!—no meat. On Father’s Day. You might as well take your mom out for a night of MMA while you’re at it.

8. IN GERMANY

Now here’s a place that gets it right—or at least did get it right. First of all, Father’s Day (Vatertag) here is a federal holiday.  Secondly, the traditional celebration involves men going on hikes in the woods pulling wagons loaded with beer and schnapps. Then they get loaded. Sadly, in modern times, this celebration has essentially devolved into an amateur-hour pub crawl, but hey, the idea was sound.

9. IN THE UNITED STATES

We’re guessing you are up on how Father’s Day is celebrated here in the states: a call to your pop. However, unlike Mother’s Day, you seem to not have any trouble sticking your parental unit with the charges. This traditionally makes Father’s Day the busiest day of the year for collect calls … and makes you kind of a cheapskate. 

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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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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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