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12 Internet Memes You Can Snuggle Up With

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Many internet memes find their way into toy stores as cuddly stuffed plushies, if they are popular enough. And when someone you love becomes enamored of an internet meme, they make a thoughtful gift. Here’s where to get yours. And only half of them are cats.

1. Snoo

It’s possible that you go to reddit every day to see what’s new and never realize they have a gift shop. That’s where you’ll find the plush version of the reddit alien, named Snoo. The 6-inch tall alien is made by Squishable.

2. Nekopan

Nekopan, or Cat Bread, is a meme that originated in a Japanese children’s book, and spread across the internet after the character was featured in a YTMND animation. You can have a Kitty Loaf, or Nekopan, of your own in a variety of flavors from Sew Cute Sweets.

3. Lil Bub

Lil Bub is the internet’s favorite big-eyed dwarf permakitten. Her distinctive looks have been enshrined in a plush toy, because everyone wants their own Lil Bub! 

4. Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat is another wildly popular internet cat, and is also a female dwarf. However, her distinctive face has a permanent scowl and turned-down mouth that is the complete opposite of her sweet and shy behavior. No matter, she’s become the face of all of us when we’re feeling grumpy. If you’ve always wanted a Grumpy Cat of your own, they are available in plush form at Amazon. And you don’t have to feed her!

5. Blobfish

In 2006, a specimen of the deep-sea fish Psychrolutes marcidus, or blobfish, was caught. At the surface, its face and body were distorted enough that the photograph went viral, and became known as Mr. Blobby. In 2013, the fish was crowned the World’s Ugliest Animal. And you can have one of your own, in a less slimy and more plush version from Think Geek.

6. Viking Kittens

Viking Kittens is a flash animation by Joel Veitch that has been passed around and reposted over the past twelve years or so. The unexpected contrast of fluffy kittens as brave warrior explorers set to Led Zeppelin was too delicious for any internet surfer to forget. Veitch’s site Rathergood no longer hosts Viking Kittens because the cartoon is a bandwidth hog, but they do sell fluffy Viking Kittens.

7. Badger

Jonti Picking created the flash animation Badgers in 2003. Since then he’s created quite a few popular characters for his site Weebl’s Stuff. In the gift shop, you’ll find badgers for sale

Also available is the Cat Face plush from the animation Cat Face (which is actually a series), and the Kenya Tiger from the animation Kenya. Yes, I know there are no tigers in Kenya, but there are lions, and a lion needs a friend.

8. The Biting Pear of Salamanca

Author and artist Ursula Vernon painted The Biting Pear of Salamanca, which became an iconic internet image known as the LOL WUT Pear. Now you can have your very own in a 12” tall cuddly plush toy! He’s big, but still fits into a fruit bowl.

9. Pedobear

I’m not sure why you would want to, but you can still find plush versions of Pedobear.

10. Mr. Toast

Some comics translate into plush easier than others. Plush toys from the website The World of Mr. Toast look exactly like their cartoon characters. You can buy them individually or as a group. Notice: this is where you find a plush piece of bacon! 

11. Nyan Cat

Nyan Cat was the biggest meme of 2011. And while it has peaked, no one will see a cat with a pop tart body dragging a rainbow and not know who it is. Think Geek has plush Nyan Cats for fans, and you can still find handcrafted versions at Etsy.

12. Axe Cop

Axe Cop is a hilarious webcomic collaboration between two brothers. In 2010, it began when 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle told stories to his brother, comic artist Ethan Nicolle, who faithfully reproduced his imaginative tales. If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat. In the Axe Cop store, you can find action figures of the main characters, and cuddly plush versions of Avocado Soldier and Wexter the T. rex with machine gun arms. 

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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]