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The Origins of 9 Gab-Worthy 'Gilmore Girls' Terms

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Put on another pot of coffee because the Gilmore Girls are back. It was announced recently that Netflix will be airing four 90-minute movies, satisfying Stars Hollow lovers everywhere. For those of you who haven’t visited the fictional Connecticut town lately — or gasp! ever — here’s a guide to a few Gilmoreisms.


There are three, count ‘em, three Lorelais in the Gilmore-verse. There’s the main Lorelai (Lauren Graham), a.k.a. Lorelai Victoria Gilmore, a.k.a. the reigning Lorelai after the death of her steely paternal grandmother, also named Lorelai.

Then there’s Rory, a childhood nickname for Lorelai. In the pilot, Rory explains that she was named after her mother. “She was lying in the hospital thinking about how men name boys after themselves all the time,” Rory says. “So why couldn't women?” Rory’s full name is Lorelai Leigh, which might come from Marilyn Monroe’s gold digging character Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. However, the connection is unclear.

According to Baby Name WizardLorelai derives from the Middle High German Lurlei, which means “ambush cliff." In Germanic legend, Lorelai was a siren who lured sailors to shipwreck. At one point, one-time fiance Max tells Lorelai that she’s “like a mythological creature that casts some kind of spell on [him] and makes [him] act stupid.”


Rory's Hartford-based prep school might be based on Choate Rosemary Hall, an exclusive boarding school in nearby Wallingford. Choate? Chilton? We'll buy it.

In an early episode, it’s mentioned that Sandra Day O’Connor attended Chilton (she was also a Puff, a member of the school’s secret sorority). So did the retired Supreme Court justice really attend a prep school in Connecticut? Alas, no. O’Connor is Texas born and bred, having attended the probably just as exclusive Radford School. But whether she was part of a secret society or not, she won't be saying.


While Rory’s best friend Lane Kim may look like a good girl, she has the soul of a rock goddess. She hides her extensive CD collection from her mother, secretly teaches herself drums, and starts her own band. However, by season three and their first gig, they still didn't have a name (although The Chops and Follow Them to the Edge of the Desert were front-runners). It’s not until season five that the band finally is introduced as Hep-Alien. Believe it or not. Hep-Alien is an anagram of Helen Pai, sometime show producer and always best friend of show creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino.


Not just an annoying toy, the Bop-It is the Gilmore girls’ remedy for awkward social interactions. It’s also a signal that a situation needs livening up, which Rory misinterprets later. “You're pulling out the Bop-it?” she asks Lorelai. “You're already that bored of me?” Of course not: the Bop-It was merely accidentally bopped.


“You’ve been Totsied,” Lorelai tells Luke. What’s a totsy? Lorelai’s odoriferous aunt. “Lovely woman,” says Lorelai. “She hugs you, you smell like her for a month.”

In addition to being Totsied, one might also be Gilmored, the act of having one’s life taken over by the rich, powerful, and pushy, such as Lorelai’s parents. Symptoms include a “tightness in the chest,” and “anger mixed with paralyzing weakness.” Again, Lorelai breaks the bad news to Luke: “You’ve been Gilmored.”


Speaking of the rich and powerful, the Gilmores have nothing on the Huntzbergers, the super-wealthy family of Rory’s Yale boyfriend, Logan. The Huntzbergers are unabashedly based on the New York Times-owning Sulzbergers, says Sherman-Palladino. “The word ‘berger’ is in there.”

So are the Sulzbergers as heartless and snobbish as the Huntzbergers, who have Rory over for dinner only to humiliate her and later tell her she doesn’t have “it” to be a journalist, her lifelong dream? Sherman-Palladino says she can't comment on the personal qualities of the Sulzbergers, only that she wanted the Huntzbergers to be “family of newspaper royalty.”


“I’d say it’s about ninety kropogs or so,” Logan says when asked how far his dorm is from Rory’s. “Fill me in here,” Lorelai says when her parents laugh a little too uproariously. “What’s a kropog?”

A kropog is a Yale-specific unit of measurement, Logan explains, “based on the height of a kid named Kropog.” Maxwell T. Kropog, specifically, class of 1944. While the kropog isn’t real, the smoot is. Created by a fraternity at MIT, one smoot equals five feet seven inches, the height of one Oliver R. Smoot, class of 1962. Smoot was chosen because he was the shortest pledge and because of his awesome name.


Like the kropog, the Life and Death Brigade is fictionalized but probably based on Yale’s real-life secret society, Skull and Bones. The Bones — including Prescott S. Bush, grandfather to 43rd President of the United States George W. — have been accused of robbing the grave of Apache warrior Geronimo. The stunts of the Life and Death Brigade, while still dangerous, are far less controversial, and include old-timey picnics, speaking without using the letter e, and jumping out of airplanes.


Sherman-Palladino chose the final four words of the series long ago, but was never able to reveal them. As most Gilmorians know, she and writer-director husband Daniel left before the last season due to contract disputes with network executives. However, now with the Sherman-Palladino-helmed revival, we’ll finally get to hear those final four words. We wouldn't be surprised if one of them is coffeecoffeecoffee.

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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]