CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images Sport

The Nicknames of All 32 World Cup 2014 Teams

Original image
Getty Images Sport

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is six months out, but there's no better time to pick a side to root for come summer. If you're still parsing through the groups in search of a team, here's a look at each squad in this year's cup and their nicknames.

Group A

1. Brazil: "Canarinho" ("Little Canary")


Named for the squad's famously bright yellow kits. Other less popular nicknames include the just-as-colorful "Verde-Amarela" ("The Green and Yellow"), "Samba Kings" for the nearly-dancing footskills of the team's players, and the boastful "Pentacampeões" ("The Five Time Champions," apparently a moniker that's subject to change).

2. Croatia: "Vatreni" ("The Blazers")

Also known as Bilic's Boys as of late, deriving their second nickname from the surname of current head coach Slaven Bilic.

3. Mexico: "El Tri"

For the three colors (red, white, and green) of the nation's flag. If you want to be more formal, "El Tricolor." 

4. Cameroon: "Les Lions Indomptables" ("The Indomitable Lions")

North Cameroon and North Nigeria split the Bénoué-Gumti lion conservation project, which seeks to preserve the region's lion population.

Group B

5. Spain: "La Furia Roja" ("The Red Fury")

The Spanish side earned their most popular nickname in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, where they won a silver medal and popularized the tiki-taka style of playing, concentrating on "flair, creativity, and touch." The team also goes by its primary uniform color—"La Roja."

6. Netherlands: "Clockwork Orange"

The Dutch squads of the 1970s became known for their knack for precision passing, winning them a very Kubrickian nickname for their brand of Total Football (a scheme designed to maintain possession of the ball), a pastiche on the country's famous national color.

7. Chile: "La Roja" ("The Red One")

Though Chile sports a repeat nickname already used by a Group B team, they're the only team in their respective group with a theme song. Penned by Chicagoan indie rockers Manwomanchild, "Chile La Roja" was an unofficial anthem for the team's 2010 World Cup appearance in South Africa. Maybe their universality is chalked up to another nickname: "El Equipo de Todos," or "Everybody's Team," thanks to a fan-favorite attacking style.

8. Australia: "Socceroos"

Journalist Tony Horstead coined the portmanteau of a nickname in 1967 while covering the team's goodwill tour to South Vietnam, borrowing the back end of the name from one of Australia's best-known inhabitants. By 1974, the nickname was included in Australian Women's Weekly sans explanation.

Group C

9. Colombia: "Los Cafeteros" ("The Coffee Growers")

The Colombians' moniker riffs on one of the nation's largest exports.

10. Greece: "Piratiko" ("The Pirate Ship")

Though an unlikely pairing at first glance, Greek sportscasters spawned the name during a telecast of an upset victory against Portugal in the Euro 2004 tournament. The tournament's opening ceremony, hosted by Greece, flaunted a pirate ship. Inspired, Greek color commentator Georgios Halakis said the team had to "become pirates and steal the victory."

11. Ivory Coast: "Les Elephants" ("The Elephants")

Cote d'Ivoire (the country) earned its namesake for a booming ivory trade.

12. Japan: "Blue Samurai"

Blue for the uniforms, "Samurai" for the Japanese warriors of yore.

Group D

13. Uruguay: “La Celeste" ("The Sky Blue One")

The team's secondary nickname ("Los Charrúas") is a little more historical than just a description of the team's dominant hue: the name derives from the Charrúa people, indigenous nomads of Uruguay whose claims to notoriety involve killing Spanish explorer Juan Diaz de Solis and the group's massacre at Salsipuedes Creek in April of 1831.

14. Costa Rica: “Los Ticos”

"Tico" is a colloquial form of "costarricenses," or the Spanish-speaking term for inhabitants of the Latin American nation.

15. England: “Three Lions”

Named thusly for the trio of lions present on England's national football team crest — and the English coat of arms. It's a traditional emblem dating back to the reign of (you guessed it) Richard the Lionheart.

16. Italy: "Gli Azzuri" (“The Blues”)

The running nickname for Italy's national football, basketball, ice hockey, volleyball, rugby union, and rugby league teams, "Azzuri" springs from the plural form of the Italian word "azzuro," or azure blue.

Group E

17. Switzerland: "The Schweizer Nati" ("The Swiss National Team")

Sometimes, brevity is the soul of nicknames too.

18. Ecuador: “La Tri”

Much like Mexico, Ecuador's national football side named itself for the three colors of the country's flag: yellow, blue, and red.

19. France: "Les Bleus" (“The Blues”)

Simple: the principal color of France's primary jersey is blue. 

20. Honduras: "Los Catrachos"

Stemming from General Florencio Xatruch, who led Honduras forces against Nicaraguan president and American native William Walker in 1856, "catrachos" is a catch-all name for Hondurans as said by other Central American countries.

Group F

21. Argentina: "La Albicelestes" (“The White and Sky Blue”)


Again, sticking to the pattern of nicknames-based-on-team-uniform-colors.

22. Bosnia and Herzegovina: "Zmajevi" ("Dragons")

The team's nickname often referred to by international media is a little less ferocious than the popular Bosnian nickname: "Zlatni Ljiljani," or "Golden Lilies," for the lily native to Bosnia and Herzegovina, also appearing on the Bosnian coat-of-arms.

23. Iran: “Team Melli"

Which translates literally to "The National Team." Runners-up for nicknames include "Persian Stars" (used since the 2006 World Cup), "The Iranian Lions," "Lion Hearts," and, most recently, "Princes of Persia," in use since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

24. Nigeria: “Super Eagles"

Erstwhile known as the "Green Eagles," the nickname comes from the eagle perched atop a soccer ball on the Nigerian national football team crest. Nigeria adopted the name after a controversial loss at the hands of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations final.

Group G

25. Germany: “Nationalmannschaft" ("National Team")

See also: Switzerland and Iran.

26. Portugal: “Selecção das Quinas" ("Team of the Five")

The team is nicknamed for the five shields present on the national football team crest.

27. Ghana: “Black Stars”


In another nod to the team's national flag, Ghana's team name references the eponymous black star that the country's flag sports in its center.

28. United States: “The Yanks"

Informally shortened from the colloquial term "Yankees," other Team USA nicknames include "The Stars and Stripes" and, well, "Team USA."

Group H

29. Belgium: “Red Devils”

"Rote teufel" if you're in Germany, "Rode Duivels" if you're speaking Dutch, or "Diables Rouges," according to the French. The nickname was first used by journalist Pierre Walckiers after a flurry of impressive victories in 1906 against France and the Netherlands — Belgium's uniforms prominently feature red.

30. Algeria: “Les Fennecs" ("The Desert Foxes")

Algeria is more than 80 percent desert (which probably makes for rough soccer conditions.) The titular fennec is a small, nocturnal fox native to Northern Africa.

31. Russia: "Sbornaya" ("National Team")

See also: Germany, Iran, and Switzerland.

32. South Korea: "Taeguk" ("Warriors")

The taeguk (the yin and yang symbol front-and-center on the national flag) is a symbol of balance. The team has also been labeled as "The Reds" for their crimson team kit—the team's official supporters, started in 1995, banded together as "The Red Devils."

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
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!

Original image
iStock
Sponsor Content: BarkBox
arrow
8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
Original image
iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES