CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

How to Look Like a Victorian Gentleman in 11 Easy Steps

Original image
Getty Images

Trying to add a bit of class to your 21st-century fashion sense? Here are some dandy pointers from Britain’s Victorian period (1837-1901).

1. Vests (AKA: “Waistcoats”) Are A Must

Victorian gentlemen had a “vested” interest in these garments. Why? Unless he was an athlete, engaged in rigorous labor, or heading off to bed, a man wasn’t considered fully dressed without one … even in his own home.

2. Learn How To Tie An Ascot

Back then, these elegant ties were a common sight, so this is one skill you’ll definitely want to brush up on.

3. Start Cultivating Your Facial Hair

“Why Shave?” begged the title of a popular pro-beard manifesto written in 1853. Face fuzz—long denounced as “unseemly”—fell into the British mainstream in the mid 1800s. It was a rediscovered symbol of unbridled masculinity, and, thus, men began gleefully growing extravagant moustaches, beards, and side-burns. So which style’s right for you? Here’s a nifty run-down well worth looking over.

4. Going Around Hatless Is A Big No-No

“A well-brushed hat, and glossy boots must always be worn in the street,” states the Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette (1860). Being seen outdoors or in a public building without some form of headgear remained frowned-upon until well into the 1900s. But wait! What if you’re plagued with obnoxious hat hair? If that’s the case, you can always fight it the old-fashioned way: by applying a generous helping of Macassar oil to help keep that mop in shape.

5. Pinstripes Are Your Friend

Pinstripe trousers might not have been universally-used, but they were a distinctive staple throughout much of the Victorian period.

6. Understand The Four Basic Coats

According to Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette (1866), “There are four basic coats which [a gentleman] must have: a business coat, a frock-coat, a dress-coat, and an over-coat. A well-dressed man may do well with four of the first, and one of each of the others per minimum. An economical man can get along with less.”

7. Ditch the Belt

Larry King would’ve fit right in during the Victorian era. Thanks to the relatively high waistlines of contemporary trousers, suspenders were vastly more popular than belts.

8. Get A Pocket Watch: They’re Timelessly Charming

A few hollowed-out models even contained built-in cameras. Don’t believe it? Check this out.

9. No Glove, No Love

Be advised, prospective neo-Victorian: If you’re planning on waltzing anytime soon, you’d better invest in some decent gloves first. Protocol dictated that, while dancing, the bare skin of young ladies and gentlemen couldn’t come into contact, so a layer of protection was necessary.

10. When it Comes to Footwear, Stay Conservative

Shoes and boots were generally either black or brown before the 1890s, when white alternatives were introduced to complement summer outfits.

11. Above All Else, Avoid Eccentricity!

“The dress of a gentleman should be such as not to excite any special observation, unless it be for neatness and propriety,” implores Arthur Martine’s aforementioned book of etiquette. “The utmost care should be exercised to avoid even the appearance of desiring to attract attention by the peculiar formation of any article of attire … a positive evidence of vulgarity.”

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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
Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
entertainment
arrow
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
Original image
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]

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