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11 Delightful 19th-Century Australian Slang Terms

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In 1892, German linguist Karl Lentzner published Dictionary of the Slang-English of Australia and of Some Mixed Languages, likely the first compilation of its kind. “The English language has of late years incorporated a vast store of words and phrases generally known as ‘Slang,’ which, with marvellous rapidity, have taken root in all sections of the community,” Lentzner writes. “America especially has proved a fertile soil for colloquialisms of this kind; and so has Australia. To collect, and to some extent tabulate, an interesting class of these unorthodox accretions—Colonial Slang, is the purpose of this work.”

You won't find crikey in this book, but there are plenty other weird and wonderful words worth incorporating into everyday conversation. Here are just a few of them, from the first section of Lentzner’s book, “Australian and Bush Slang."

1. Boomah

This word for a very large type of kangaroo, Lentzner says, likely sprang from a misunderstanding by British Colonel Godfrey Charles Mundy, who wrote in Our Antipodes,

An officer from Van Diemen's Land told me that he had once killed in that colony “a kangaroo of such magnitude, that being a long way from home, he was unable though on horseback to carry away any portion except the tail, which alone weighed thirty pounds. This species is called the boomah, and stands about seven feet high.”

“The word was strange to him,” Lentzner says, “and he imagined it to be a variety of kangaroo, and not a slang word expressive of size.”

2. Cornstalks

These are Australian settlers, particularly girls. They get that nickname “because their average height is very great, though they are fragile,” Lentzner writes.

3. Dead Nuts On

This term, which means “very fond of,” is a more emphatic version of the English “nuts on.”

4. Happy Returns

This is a pleasant term for a rather unpleasant thing: Someone who has happy returns is throwing up his food.

5. To Hump the Swag

To carry your luggage on your back. An example, from the article "Impressions of Australia," which appeared in Blackwood's Magazine: "And you may often have to hump your own swag, for the able-bodied fellows who are standing about are probably too well off to care to earn your shilling."

6. Kokum

Prison slang for sham kindness.

7. Leanaway

Someone who is tipsy. “The metaphor is of course,” Lentzner writes, “from the drunk person’s reeling.”

8. Off his kadoova

Someone who is insane. “Off his kadoova, ‘off his head,’ ‘off his chump,’ or simply ‘off,’ all convey the same idea—as a train being off the rails, or a man off his play,” Lentzner writes.

9. Promossing

“Talking rubbish, playing the fool, mooning about.”

10. To have one’s shirt out

To be angry. “Probably this expression has arisen from the shirt working out between the breeches and waistcoat during a struggle,” Lentzner writes. “To have one's shirt out, therefore, denotes excitement and thus anger. Another possible derivation is from the provincial shurty, to bustle about.”

11. Simply throwing up buckets

A way of saying you are very disappointed. "When a person means to say that he is as disappointed as ever he can be, he sometimes says, 'Oh! I am simply throwing up buckets,' Lentzner writes. "This expression is of course considered very vulgar—used by school boys, and the like."

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]