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Ulysses Press

14 Unusual Coloring Books for Adults

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Ulysses Press

Like slumber parties, whipped cream, and juice boxes, coloring books aren't just for kids anymore. There's a huge collection of coloring books that appeal to a (slightly) more mature crowd out there, perfect for any coffee table. I colored in a few pages.

1. The 1990s Coloring Book: All That and a Box of Crayons (Psych! Crayons Not Included.)

Ulysses Press

As any nostalgic twentysomething will tell you, the '90s was the best decade ever. Who needs Woodstock or the first moon walk, when the '90s had Pogs and Gameboys? Believe me when I say this coloring book has it all: Legends of the Hidden Temple, X-Files, Tomagatchi, you name it. There's even a draw-your-own Beanie Baby page! (I made mental_floss its own themed bear.)

The coloring book explains that it doesn't come with crayons (with that classic '90s 'tude) so I recommend picking up some purple and teal colors for this one. 

2. Snake Eyes

The coloring book you never knew you needed: Snake Eyes. This bizarre-but-awesome activity book lets you join in on all of Nic Cage's wacky adventures. Budding artists can even help give the actor a new face. My co-workers helpfully gave him a variety of faces so he can chase down Special Agent Archer incognito. 

3. The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book

ECW Press

CBGB might be closed, but that doesn't mean you can't keep graffitiing on the bathroom walls (in spirit). The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book offers lots of fun with punk bands of the past and present. There's something very satisfying about drawing your own tattoos on Henry Rollins (I opted for a pony). 

4. Color Me Drunk: A Drinking and Drawing Activity Book

This is a great activity book for lushes. The matte brown cover, designed by Danielle Deschenes and Matt Davis, comes with cut out beer goggles to wear while you color. These come in handy for the games and puzzles that are tailored to the user's inebriation. There's even a handy page that lets you keep track of how much you drank by coloring little beer bottles. The only problem is reality setting in when you color the whole page.

5. Indie Rock Coloring Book

Chronicle Books

If you have a music lover in your life, this is the perfect gift. Illustrated by Andy J. Miller, this delightful book features bands like Bon Iver, Broken Social Scene, and The National. All the profits are split between the bands' charities of choice. Rilo Kiley's Pierre de Reeder writes a heartfelt foreward that really captures the charm of the project. 

6. Bun B's Rap Coloring and Activity Book

Harry N. Abrams

When Bun B isn't writing raps on his iPhone, you can find him in this exciting activity book, which has 48 pages of countless rappers and hip-hop references just waiting to be colored in. Some of the guests include Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and more. You can check out their tumblr here. 

7. Color This Book: New York City

Chronicle Books

If you love Broad City as much as I do, you need this book. It's illustrated by Abbi Jacobson, who actually went to MICA before becoming an actress. Her art school background is showcased in this beautifully drawn book of various New York sights. If the west coast is more your style, you can also check out her San Francisco book. And if that's still not enough for you, check out this one by Mike Perry (the guy who does the cool opening titles).

8. Dinosaurs With Jobs: a coloring book celebrating our old-school coworkers

Dinosaurs are really hard workers! Enjoy hilarious captions as you color in some of the older employees in the workforce. 

9. Coloring for Grown-Ups College Companion

Plume

Perfect to bring into boring lectures, this activity book provides the nostalgic joys of childhood mixed with the new joys of binge drinking. Fun puzzles include keg stand connect-the-dot, dorm room design, and quad bingo. One page lets you draw obscene images on a passed out student, so I went with the worst thing I could think of. 

10. Between the Lines: An Expert Level Coloring Book

Have you ever had to set your Sesame Street coloring book aside because it was just too easy? Here's a more challenging book for art majors with some time to kill. To see what some artists did with the pages, check them out here.

11. Color Me Swoon: The Beefcake Activity Book for Good Color-Inners as well as Beginners

Every once in a while, you need to pour yourself a glass of wine and indulge in some good old fashion swooning. This book of dreamy hunks does not discriminate; you can be any skill level to color in all your favorite hearthrobs. 

12. Thrill Murray

Bill Murray lovers (everyone) can rejoice! 23 illustrators were commissioned to create 23 fantastic pages just waiting to be colored. Thrill Murray takes scenes from all your favorite movies, from Groundhog Day to almost every single Wes Anderson movie. 

13. Coloring Book for Lawyers 

This satirical coloring book is great for lawyers with a sense of humor (my dad's reaction was so-so). Follow one lawyer as he takes you through an average day. Make sure your brown and grey crayons are sharpened for this one. 

14. Game of Thrones 

"Dracarys," you murmur as you color in Drogon's flames with your canary yellow crayon. TeamArt's beautifully hand-made Game of Thrones coloring book is just the thing to pass the time before the next season starts. If you're waiting for the next book, you might want to invest in a 120 pack of crayons.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
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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iStock
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Health
One Bite From This Tick Can Make You Allergic to Meat
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iStock

We like to believe that there’s no such thing as a bad organism, that every creature must have its place in the world. But ticks are really making that difficult. As if Lyme disease wasn't bad enough, scientists say some ticks carry a pathogen that causes a sudden and dangerous allergy to meat. Yes, meat.

The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) mostly looks like your average tick, with a tiny head and a big fat behind, except the adult female has a Texas-shaped spot on its back—thus the name.

Unlike other American ticks, the Lone Star feeds on humans at every stage of its life cycle. Even the larvae want our blood. You can’t get Lyme disease from the Lone Star tick, but you can get something even more mysterious: the inability to safely consume a bacon cheeseburger.

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," allergist Ronald Saff, of the Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider.

What prompted them was STARI, or southern tick-associated rash illness. People with STARI may develop a circular rash like the one commonly seen in Lyme disease. They may feel achy, fatigued, and fevered. And their next meal could make them very, very sick.

Saff now sees at least one patient per week with STARI and a sensitivity to galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose—more commonly known as alpha-gal—a sugar molecule found in mammal tissue like pork, beef, and lamb. Several hours after eating, patients’ immune systems overreact to alpha-gal, with symptoms ranging from an itchy rash to throat swelling.

Even worse, the more times a person is bitten, the more likely it becomes that they will develop this dangerous allergy.

The tick’s range currently covers the southern, eastern, and south-central U.S., but even that is changing. "We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northward and westward and cause more problems than they're already causing," Saff said. We've already seen that occur with the deer ticks that cause Lyme disease, and 2017 is projected to be an especially bad year.

There’s so much we don’t understand about alpha-gal sensitivity. Scientists don’t know why it happens, how to treat it, or if it's permanent. All they can do is advise us to be vigilant and follow basic tick-avoidance practices.

[h/t Business Insider]

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