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10 Oscar Speeches That Were Under 11 Words

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When Greer Garson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1943 for Mrs. Miniver, she set a Guinness World Record for "Longest Oscars Acceptance Speech" with a rant that clocked in at five and a half minutes. That’s more than twice as much time as Gwyneth Paltrow spent on her famously long speech after she nabbed the same award for Shakespeare in Love in 1999.

Oscar producers imposed a 45-second time limit on speeches in 2010, but not every winner would have needed it. Here are 10 who thanked the Academy in 10 words or fewer.

1. ALFRED HITCHCOCK (1968) // Total Words: 5

It took Alfred Hitchcock 20 seconds to make his way across the stage to accept the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award but only six seconds to offer his simple, “Thank you," before pausing and adding, "Very much indeed.” In true Hitchcock fashion, he effectively gave us all we needed without showing too much.

2. JOE PESCI (1991) // Total Words: 5

One gets the feeling that Joe Pesci had a lot more to say than, “It’s my privilege, thank you,” when he won Best Supporting Actor for Goodfellas, but no one wants to see one of cinema’s greatest tough guys cry. Now go home and get your f***ing shinebox.

3. PATTY DUKE (1963) // Total Words: 2

Hitchcock and Pesci may have given two of the most memorably truncated Oscar speeches ever, but Patty Duke makes them both look positively long-winded. When she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Miracle Worker, her response was a to-the-point, but clearly heartfelt, “Thank you.”

4. WILLIAM HOLDEN (1954) // Total Words: 4

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When he won Best Actor for Stalag 17, William Holden offered his thanks—twice—with a simple, “Thank you. Thank you.”

5. GLORIA GRAHAME (1953) // Total Words: 4

Gloria Grahame wasn’t fooling around when she breezed onto the stage to grab her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful, uttering a quick, “Thank you very much,” without so much as stopping at the microphone to savor the moment.

6. LOUIE PSIHOYOS (2010) // Total Words: 2

If The Cove director Louie Psihoyos had his way, he would have said a lot more than just, “Thank you,” when he took home an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Fellow producer Fisher Stevens ate up the bulk of their 45 seconds, so when the mic finally came around to Psihoyos, he could only mutter two words before that ominous sound of orchestral strings hushed him. Psihoyos posted a video online of his intended speech the very next day.

7. DIMITRI TIOMKIN (1953) // Total Words: 6

When you win two Oscars in one night like High Noon music director Dimitri Tiomkin did in 1953, it makes sense to keep one of your speeches brief. But Tiomkin kept it short and sweet for both, offering a simple, "Thank you very much. Thank you,” for his first win for Best Dramatic or Comedy Score and, “I feel like a mother of the wonderful twins,” when he was handed a second statue for Best Original Song.

8. ALFRED NEWMAN (1953) // Total Words: 4

The year 1953 was a fine one for succinctness. Right before Tiomkin accepted his second award, fellow musician Alfred Newman offered a modest, “Thank you very much,” after receiving the Oscar for Best Musical Score.

9. DELBERT MANN (1956) // Total Words: 8

When Delbert Mann won his first and only Oscar for directing Marty, he made his appreciation clear: “Thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.” And… scene!

10. BILLY WILDER (1961) // Total Words: 10

Billy Wilder won all three of the Oscars for which he was nominated for The Apartment—Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. While he allowed himself a full 70 words on that last award, his acceptances earlier in the night were much less long-winded. He and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond showcased their talent for brevity when they each thanked each other. And when Gina Lollobrigida handed Wilder the Oscar for Best Director, he quipped, “Thank you so much, you lovely discerning people. Thank you.”

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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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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]

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