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18 Vintage Photos of Very Cranky Kids

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Parents have always wanted photographs of their children to represent the best of their child. That’s because photographs can last a long time, and it’s natural to want the good qualities of your child to be the ones preserved forever. But that’s not always what happens. For every Facebook-worthy photo, there are usually at least six that go in the trash.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, though, a child might have been photographed only once or twice in her young life—so parents usually had to take whatever they got. Sometimes that was sweetness, and sometimes, as in the cases below, it was extreme sourness. Let's take a look back at some old photos of very cranky kids from eras past.

1. “No, you idiot, I said the blue handkerchief! Father is going to hear about this.

2. Small pox? Cholera? Typhus? Bring it on. This little lady plans on living to see The Jazz Age.

3. “Molly, everyone knows your dolly is the best dressed in town. Don't look at me like that—I swear it's true!”

4. "Prohibition won’t be repealed until I’m in my thirties?"

5. "Could we speed this up? I have to be back on the cotton loom in five minutes."

6. “You will thrust this snowball directly into your own face at once sir. At ONCE!”

7. There is probably a connection between making boys wear big stupid bows, and the misdirected rage that fueled the First World War.

8. Bertie was beginning to suspect the benefits of the butter diet were grossly over-rated.

9. "Tsk. Newborns today. Back in my day, eight months ago, we were weaned on castor oil and chicory, and we LIKED it."

10.Young Albert Einstein. According to the theory of relativity, one second in this ridiculous outfit feels like a thousand years.

11. May God have mercy on your soul, because Lulabelle certainly shan’t.

12. “We don’t have time for this frippery. You think that coal is gonna mine itself?”

13. These faces are enough to strike terror into the heart of even the toughest babysitter. 

14. You'd be cranky too if you had to pose with a chicken.

15. You can put a kid in a fancy dress, but you can't make her pose, no you can't.

16. If you don’t want one of these … wear one of those.

17. Reading Kierkegaard was the worst mistake Jeb ever made. Nothing made sense anymore.

18. “We pleaded with dolly to show mercy, truly we did. Unfortunately, she just didn’t see it our way.”

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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]