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13 Poke-Easy Regional Idioms to Describe Lazy People

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Those lazy, hazy days of summer aren't too far off, and hopefully you’ll be lolling like a slug at the pool, on the beach, or wherever warm days might take you. But even if you’re feeling lazy, your vocabulary doesn’t have to be. We’ve worked with the editors at the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) to come up with 13 regional idioms to describe the idle, indifferent, and lackadaisical.


In Hawaii and pretending to be sick to get out of work? You might get called molowa, moloa, or moloha from the Hawaiian word moloā.


In Louisiana and Alabama African-American vernacular, the lazy and indifferent are don’t-care-ish and don’t-care-ified: “She’s so don’t-care-ish about work lately. She’s just phoning it in.”


A slowcome is slow to come: a lethargic person or someone who’s always late. Found in Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, variations include slowcome-pokum and slocum-pocum. Pokum comes from poke, meaning “to dawdle.”


A poke-easy is a South Midland term that means a slow or lazy person or animal, or someone who’s easygoing. From a response to an article in Smithsonian magazine: “A man who was ‘poke-easy’ might be essentially competent, but took so long to do his work that he was a thorn in the flesh to the more brisk workers.”


“You bone loafer!” you might say to someone sleeping on the job. This term is found in the Ozarks, which is made up of northwestern Arkansas, northeastern Oklahoma, and southwestern Missouri. Bone idle and bone lazy are South Midland sayings. All come from the idea, says an 1825 quote in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), of being so lazy or idle that the laziness or idleness seems "to have penetrated the very bones."


A do-less does little. He lacks energy and is shiftless and lethargic. Common in the South Midland states, the word might simply be a combination of "do" and "less," but in some instances might be influenced by the Scots dowless, without strength or energy, feeble.


In New England, if you’ve got sprawl, you’ve got energy, initiative, and spunk. Therefore, those without sprawl or who are sprawlless are lazy. A quote from Cape Cod, Massachusetts: “He ain’t got no more sprawl to him ’n day-old kitten!” Why does sprawl mean energy? The word comes sproil, an English dialectical meaning “strength, energy; power of quick motion, spring, activity, agility.”


In the Midland states, especially Indiana, work-brittle means eager to work or industrious. However, in the Appalachian region, the term was reinterpreted to mean the opposite: disinclined to work or lazy. How brittle figures into the former meaning is uncertain. As for the latter, to rephrase a quote from DARE, someone who’s work-brittle might be broken by even a little work.


Sooner is another word with opposite meanings. In Wisconsin, Kentucky, and South Carolina, a sooner or sooner man is someone who’s quick, clever, and enterprising—in other words, someone who gets things done sooner rather than later. The term can also be used ironically in Wisconsin, as well as North Carolina, referring to a lazy, good-for-nothing person.


In Maine it’s said that someone who bottoms chairs for a living is lazy, presumably because one’s bottom is perpetually in the chair.


To sozzle means to laze around or perform a task in a sloppy way. By extension, to be sozzling means to be lazy or shiftless. The word is mainly found in New England. A quote from 1848 describes the term as “used by housekeepers in certain parts of Connecticut," as in the phrase, "This woman sozzles up her work.”

An earlier meaning of sozzle, according to the OED, is “a sloppy spoon-meat or medicine.” What the heck is spoon-meat? It’s a liquidy food meant to be eaten with a spoon, as for babies or invalids. The lazy sense of sozzle might have to do with the perceived idleness of the ill.


If you're in Alabama and have a strong inclination to idleness, you can say you’ve got the big lazies. This term has a sole quote in DARE from 1898, but we say it should be brought back right quick.


Now you can add Lawrence or lazy Lawrence to your repertoire of slacker nicknames. Found in scattered regions including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Ozarks, Lawrence is also used as a personification of laziness and sometimes in reference to “the shimmering of the air observed on hot days,” according to DARE.

According to the OED, the origin of Lawrence meaning lazy might simply come from the alliteration of the two words. Another theory is that it has to do with St. Lawrence Day on August 10, typically the throes of the dog days of summer and presumably when people are feeling especially snoozy.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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© Nintendo
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.