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Urban Outfitters

14 Weird And Wonderful Snow Globes

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Urban Outfitters

Just about everyone has owned a snow globe at some point. But chances are you’ve never seen globes like these.

1. They’re Creepy & They’re Kooky

Easily the most famous creators of strange snow globes are Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz. The couple’s art generally features grisly and melancholy miniature scenes that are photographed close up for drastic effect. This image is from their long-running Travelers series, all of which specifically take place inside of snow globes.

2. Keeping Up With the Nisse

Following in the style of Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz’s realistic and detailed snow globe creations, the Danish architectural firm Ja-Ja made a special series of snow globes to celebrate Christmas. These creations show what the “Nisse” (a small Scandinavian mythological creature that helps around the house) are up to in modern times. This particular globe shows a Nisse working away on a rooftop garden just out of sight of us silly humans.

3. Beauty and the Gore

Etsy seller TheTwistedTiara managed to combine the classic beauty and grace you find in ordinary snow globes with a ghost story to create a ballerina dancing near a grave while holding her own bloody head in her hand. 

4. A Bloody Good Time

By far the most delightfully gory snow globe in existence is this wonderful Halloween promotional product that shows Michael Myers attacking a teenage girl in a swirl of floating blood-colored sprinkles. If you really want a snow globe that will get people talking, this is it.

5. All Work and No Play

Snow globes are supposed to remind you of the swirling flurries of a gentle winter storm, and while most snow-based experiences are positive, too much cold can be deadly—as Etsy seller BubbleRoll’s snow globe featuring a frozen Jack Torrance from the end of The Shining reminds us.

6. Cthulhu Rises

The Great Elder One will be pleased with you if you leave this tribute to him resting on your mantel. Along the base of this snow globe from Fear Werx is the ominous Necronomicon quote: "That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die." 

7. We Wish You An Undead Christmas

It’s going to be a very scary Christmas this year thanks to this delightful snow globe from Things From Another World Comics filled with zombie carolers.

8. Fight For Your Life

If you just can’t get enough zombie snow globes, be sure to head over to Etsy shop goodsbygoose and grab this decidedly more morbid take on the concept featuring a survivor in a life or death battle with an undead creature. Did I mention this one glows in the dark? As if you needed more of a reason to snag this great gift.

9. Mad About Snow Globes

This mad scientist snow globe is the perfect gift for anyone you know who spends his or her life down in the basement tinkering on something and laughing maniacally—or someone who happens to be a regular scientist with aspirations for more.

10. Lord of the Snow Globes

Admit it, this is definitely the most “precious” snow globe you’ve seen in a while. (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.) 

11. Dunkin' Memories

Most people get location-based snow globes as souvenirs to remember particularly eventful vacations, but apparently some people want mementos of the donut chains they visited. Or at least, that’s the only logic I could come up with for this Dunkin’ Donuts snow globe.

12. It Was Awful

The Grumpy Cat snow globe is perfect for anyone who loves memes, anyone that adores Tardar Sauce or anyone who simply hates snow globes. Best of all, it’s not even officially for sale right now, so if you pre-order it, you can claim that you ordered the Grumpy Cat snow globe before it was cool … but it was still awful.

13. Seriously, Who Was It?

It’s something we’ve all asked at one time or another, just never in snow globe form. I’m not sure if this is meant as a gift or as bathroom décor, but either way, it’s sure to be a conversation starter.

14. Screw Your Snow Globes

Tired of all the happy ballerinas and princesses in snow globes? Then give them the finger with this terrible, but hilariously wrong, prank snow globe.

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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:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

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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