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Getty Images/Simpsons Wikia/Erin McCarthy

21 Band Names Based on TV Shows

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Getty Images/Simpsons Wikia/Erin McCarthy

You know how you occasionally hear an awesome turn of phrase and immediately think, “That would make the best band name? These people did the same thing, but the difference between us and them is that they actually went on to name a band. Check out these 21 band names inspired by a little quality time flipping channels from the couch.

1. Evergreen Terrace

Alex Meagher, Flickr // CC BY NC-2.0

A metalcore band named after the street on which everyone’s favorite Springfieldian family lives. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie live at 742 Evergreen Terrace.

2. Fall Out Boy

via Getty Images

The “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” band is named after—yes—Fallout Boy, a minor character in The Simpsons. But it’s not because the guys in the band were such Matt Groening fans; they didn’t even get the reference when they adopted the name. The nameless band was in the middle of their second show when they decided to poll the audience for name ideas. A Simpsons fan shouted the name of Radioactive Man’s sidekick, and the band liked it.

3. I Voted For Kodos

Bridget Maniaci, Flickr // CC BY ND-2.0

OK, one last Simpsons reference. A now-defunct ska band named themselves after a quote in Treehouse of Horror VII. Aliens Kang and Kodos take over Earth and declare themselves the new presidential candidates. Kang wins and immediately enslaves the human race. Here's how that ends:

4. The Anti-Dentites

This Connecticut-based band pays tribute to the famous Bryan Cranston episode of Seinfeld.

5. Betty's Not a Vitamin

Named after one of the biggest marketing oversights in history, Paste magazine called these guys one of the best-named bands of all time

6. Eve’s Plum

Before she was Vitamin C (and Amber Von Tussle, for that matter), Colleen Fitzpatrick was in a band called Eve’s Plum, a tip of the hat to Ms. Jan Brady herself, Eve Plumb.

7. Marsha Brady

Mike McCall, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Of course, Marcia’s always there to steal Jan’s spotlight—although this Cincinnati cover band either wasn’t interested in exact spelling or wanted to sidestep pesky copyright laws.

8. Johnny Bravo

But wait, there’s more Brady Bunch! Remember the episode where Greg moonlights as a teen idol named Johnny Bravo? So does this Ohio cover band.

9. The Banana Convention

Greg Brady sure had a lot of near-misses in the music industry. He also had a garage band called “The Banana Convention,” which sounded pretty good to this group from Saginaw, MI. They are, self-described, “a happy sounding Paramore meets No Doubt, with a splash of Weezer.”

10. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

cormac70, Flickr // CC BY NC-ND-2.0

Here’s one for the Brits. An episode of The Goon Show, a British radio comedy show, is what inspired the name of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. You may have heard their version of the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” in So I Married an Axe Murderer.

11. Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Sounds like a controversial statement, but the lead singer of the band says the name was actually just a quote from the ever-offensive David Brent on the British version of The Office:

Everybody thinks the name is some kind of statement but it's a quote from David Brent in an episode of The Office. When me and James [Rushent] first started writing music together we decided to put it up on MySpace. We needed a name to put as our profile name so just put what was the first thing that was said on TV, we switched it on and Ricky Gervais said 'Does it offend you, yeah? My drinking?' so we just went with that. No thought went into it whatsoever.

12. Chigliak Records

OK, technically this one isn’t a band, but still worth a mention. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is such a fan of Northern Exposure that they honored the film buff character Ed Chigliak with a namesake record label. Vernon said,

Honestly, before I settled on a name for the Bon Iver project in general, Chigliak was in the running for what I was going to name the band, just because I love him so much. He’s my favorite in the pantheon of characters in the history of the world. So I was, like, "Well, that’s the best name for the label.’"He just represents the best of art. In the show, he’s penpals with Martin Scorsese, he’s a big film buff and he’s sort of a representation of what we’re trying to do at the label: like good music that may not be box office-smashing. We want to try to spread some of the music that maybe didn’t get out enough the first time around.

13. Eve 6

Joshua Smelser, Flickr // CC BY NC-ND-2.0

More sci-fi fans in the music business. The band’s name refers to an episode of The X-Files where genetically engineered woman are named “Eves” and genetically engineered men are called “Adams.” One of the Eves was named Eve 6, which drummer Tony Fagenson thought would make for a pretty cool band name.

14. Killswitch Engage

Andreh Santo, Flickr // CC BY ND-2.0

Eve 6 isn’t the only band inspired by Mulder and Scully. The metalcore band chose their name after watching an X-Files episode called “Kill Switch” written by cyberpunk novelist William Gibson. (He’s the guy who coined the term “cyberspace,” by the way.)

15. The Bloodhound Gang

Children of the ‘80s may remember that “The Bloodhound Gang” was the name of a skit on the PBS show 3-2-1 Contact. “They were a group of nerdy kids that solved crimes with math puzzles,” the band's guitarist, Lupus Thunder, explained in 2000. “It just made sense. We were a rap band so we needed to have a cool ‘tough’ sounding name, hence the ‘gang’. But deep down inside we're a bunch of nerds who should be doing math puzzles and playing Dungeons and Dragons or something similar. So the name just fits. Plus, the reference to the old ‘80s TV show shows what we're all about.”

16. Frodus

Nicole Kibert, Flickr // CC BY NC-ND-2.0

This "spazzcore band" took its name from last episode of The Monkees, “The Frodis Caper.” The Frodis, apparently, was a being from another planet that resembles a one-eyed philodendron with a football-shaped eye.

17. Ookla the Mok

Michael Pereckas, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Who remembers Thundarr the Barbarian? It was a Saturday morning cartoon that ran in the early ‘80s, and while it may not have had a profound effect on most of us, it definitely influenced Ookla the Mok. Ookla the Mok was a Wookiee-like character who traveled the world with Thundarr, battling evil sorcerers. “But what do they sing?” you’re probably wondering. Here’s a little sample: “Tantric Yoda” was the #1 requested song on the Dr. Demento radio show in 2012. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be seduced by Yoda, wonder no more

18. Das Racist

Dave Lichterman, Flickr // CC BY NC-ND-2.0

The irreverent rappers named themselves after a clip on a now-defunct show on MTV2 called Wonder Showzen. According to MC Himanshu Suri,

I think being minorities at a liberal arts college and that type of environment had an impact on both the way we view race and our sense of humor, which people often use as a tool to deal with race. I always felt like Wonder Showzen was a television show that captured that type of thing perfectly. When I saw the little kid yelling "THAT'S RACIST" it blew my mind. And then it became a take all the seriousness out of making legitimate commentary on race, because that can get very annoying. So when something veering on racially insensitive would pop off in a commercial on television or something it would be like, who could yell "That's Racist" first. And then we thought it would be a cool name.

19. Minus the Bear

Nicole Kibert, Flickr // CC BY NC-ND-2.0

An indie band from Seattle, Minus the Bear was inspired by a sitcom from the ‘70s that featured a truck driver and his escapades with his pet chimp named Bear. Someone who was friends with the band had gone on a date, and when asked how the date went, he said, “You know 'You know that TV show from the 70s, B.J. and The Bear? It was like that, minus the bear.” And someone in the band probably said, “That would make an awesome band name,” and then it was so.

20. The Number 12 Looks Like You

Ervin, Flickr // CC BY ND-2.0

This grindcore/progressive metal/hardcore punk/jazz band was named after a Twilight Zone episode. In the episode, the members of a future (ahem, the year 2000, cue Conan) society undergo an operation at the age of 18 to become beautiful and can choose from just a handful of various models.

21. Crystal Castles

The Canadian duo took their name from She-Ra, although technically it was inspired by a commercial for a She-Ra toy. The ad was hawking She-Ra’s Crystal Castle and, the band says, said that “The Crystal Castle is the source of all power,” and “The fate of the world is safe in Crystal Castle.” I wonder if it was this one:

Who'd we leave out besides Toad the Wet Sprocket?

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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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Scientists Think They Know How Whales Got So Big
May 24, 2017
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It can be difficult to understand how enormous the blue whale—the largest animal to ever exist—really is. The mammal can measure up to 105 feet long, have a tongue that can weigh as much as an elephant, and have a massive, golf cart–sized heart powering a 200-ton frame. But while the blue whale might currently be the Andre the Giant of the sea, it wasn’t always so imposing.

For the majority of the 30 million years that baleen whales (the blue whale is one) have occupied the Earth, the mammals usually topped off at roughly 30 feet in length. It wasn’t until about 3 million years ago that the clade of whales experienced an evolutionary growth spurt, tripling in size. And scientists haven’t had any concrete idea why, Wired reports.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B might help change that. Researchers examined fossil records and studied phylogenetic models (evolutionary relationships) among baleen whales, and found some evidence that climate change may have been the catalyst for turning the large animals into behemoths.

As the ice ages wore on and oceans were receiving nutrient-rich runoff, the whales encountered an increasing number of krill—the small, shrimp-like creatures that provided a food source—resulting from upwelling waters. The more they ate, the more they grew, and their bodies adapted over time. Their mouths grew larger and their fat stores increased, helping them to fuel longer migrations to additional food-enriched areas. Today blue whales eat up to four tons of krill every day.

If climate change set the ancestors of the blue whale on the path to its enormous size today, the study invites the question of what it might do to them in the future. Changes in ocean currents or temperature could alter the amount of available nutrients to whales, cutting off their food supply. With demand for whale oil in the 1900s having already dented their numbers, scientists are hoping that further shifts in their oceanic ecosystem won’t relegate them to history.

[h/t Wired]