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11 Reasons You Feel Comfortable Saying Anything to Your Best Friend

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The best friendships are truly unfiltered – you feel comfortable telling your best friend things you would never dream of confiding in anyone else. Ever wonder why that is? Science can explain it!

1. Because she offers support, even if she can’t help.

Studies show that people value acceptance and emotional expressiveness over utility in friendship. So even if your best friend can’t solve your problem, it’s helpful to have someone listen to you vent.

2. Because you share the same “social-identity.”

A study of college students showed that while intimacy builds friendships, the surest indicator of a best friend is sharing the same “social-identity”, which can be religion, sports teams, roles like motherhood, or membership in the same club.

3. Because we go the extra mile for them.

Psychologists call this the Ben Franklin Effect: "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged." Which is to say, we tend to like someone more after we do something nice for them.

4. Because your friend is comfortable saying anything to you.

Sociologists have found that the key to jumping from being acquaintances to being friends is reciprocal sharing. So as one person reveals deeper information about herself to an acquaintance, the acquaintance reciprocates, and soon they’re sharing everything.

5. Because your friend stays positive.

Disclosure is necessary for intimacy, but the personal revelations can’t be one long string of downers. We’re more likely to work to maintain a friendship if it doesn’t feel draining, so by remembering to look on the bright side and not being a drag, best friends increase their intimacy.

6. Because you hang out with your best friend.

This one may seem obvious, but in the age of virtual interactions it bears repeating: studies show we feel closest to people with whom we spend actual face-to-face time.

7. Because your best friend makes everything seem easier.

One study showed that people reported hills seemed less steep when in the presence of a close friend. Another found lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol present if a negative situation was experienced with a friend. When you’ve got your best friend with you, everything feels manageable, so why wouldn’t you confide in them?

8. Because your best friend doesn’t hold a grudge.

A lot of friendship is about expectations. While it’s important to work to meet those expectations, friendships can’t last unless you cut each other some slack when one person falls short of those expectations. Since you know your best friend won’t judge you forever, you’re more willing to share a secret with them.

9. Because you’re their best friend, too.

Friendship is built not just on reciprocity of intimacy but also reciprocity of value.  In other words, we tend to like people who like us back. Studies have found that we tend to give higher ranks to the people who rank us highly when considering friends.

10. Because nonverbal clues tell you your best friend is trustworthy.

Studies show that humans are remarkably good at picking up on nonverbal indications of trustworthiness. By the time someone has become your best friend, you know you can trust her with even your deepest secrets.

11. Because friendship is good for you!

Numerous studies have shown that social support is incredibly important to health late in life and even lowers mortality rates. So go ahead and tell your best friend anything – it may help you live longer!

Celebrate the full-blown honesty that can only exist between best friends by tuning in to the premiere of Garfunkel and Oates on IFC on Thursday, August 7 at 10/9c. And since August 3 is National Friendship Day, remind your best friend you care by sending them a Garfunkel and Oates video card like this.

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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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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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