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12 Different Ways to Say 'Doughnut' Across the U.S.

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On National Doughnut Day, the holiest of high fat holidays (hole-y, get it?), we celebrate the delicious pastry, from the plain to the just plain crazy. Not only can you get your grubby hands on free doughnuts today, you’re getting a bunch of regional doughnut lingo right here. With the editors of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), we explore the different ways people say doughnut across the United States and bring you a dozen to sink your teeth into.

1. CHOKER HOLE

Choker hole is originally a logging term from the Pacific Northwest. It refers to a small hole dug under a log so that a choker—a rope or wire formed in the shape of a noose—can go under the log for hauling. Due to its resemblance, loggers nicknamed the doughnut "choker hole."

2. COOKIE

If you really want to confuse your friends, call a doughnut a cookie. Popular in the Southern and South Midland states, this term probably comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning a “small sweetened cake.”

3. FETTIGLICH

In German communities in Missouri, you might hear doughnuts referred to as fettiglich. The word probably comes from the German fettig, meaning fatty or greasy. According to a quote in DARE, a fall tradition in Missouri involved masked children going door to door, saying, “Fettiglich, fettiglich,” to which people would respond by giving them doughnuts, a practice which should definitely be revived for Doughnut Day.

4. OLYKOEK

Olykoek is an early term for doughnut that hails from the Hudson Valley in New York. One of the earliest recorded usages is from Washington Irving in his 1809 book A History of New York: “The table ... was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough nuts, or oly koeks.” Olykoek is a variation on the Dutch oliekoek, which translates as “oil cake.”

5. SUBMARINE

While a submarine is familiar as a sandwich in some parts of the U.S., it has also been a name for a doughnut in states like Kansas, Minnesota, West Virginia, and New York. Alternatively called a sinker, the name submarine comes from the idea of a doughnut being submerged in oil or fat, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

6. FRIED NUT

If you’re ever in New Hampshire and get offered a fried nut, take it! It's an old-fashioned term for a doughnut. The "nut" of fried nut (and of doughnut, for that matter) comes from the idea that earlier doughnuts—which didn’t have holes—looked like nuts.

7. CYMBAL

An old-timey New England term, cymbal refers to a doughnut without a hole, according to a quote in DARE. A doughnut with a hole might have come from a sea captain, at least according to an early 1930s quote from the Linguistic Atlas of New England. Boston native Oliver Wendell Holmes called the cymbal “a kind of genteel doughnut.”

8. COLD SHUT

Ever bite into a tough, day-old doughnut? That might be called a cold shut in the Pacific Northwest. Cold shut was originally a welding term referring to a link that was closed “while cold” and without welding.

9. KOLACKY

A kolacky is a doughnut with a sweet filling, as well as a pastry made of pie dough and topped with something sweet. The term is chiefly used in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest states, and is a variation on the Czech kolač, which comes from kolo, meaning wheel or circle. DARE’s earliest recorded use of a form of kolacky is from Willa Cather’s novel My Ántonia, which is about a family of “Bohemian” immigrants: “Show him the spiced plums, mother. Americans don’t have those ... Mother uses them to make kolaches.”

10. BERLINER

In Wisconsin and craving a jelly doughnut? Ask for a Berliner. If wreath-shaped pastries are more your thing, you can find the Berliner kranser in Scandinavian settlement areas like Minnesota. Despite its German-sounding name, Berliner kranser is actually Norwegian and translates as "Berlin wreath."

11. TANGLE BREECHES

Tangle breeches is a nickname for the cruller in states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Nebraska, Kansas, and Alabama. What’s a cruller? Basically a doughnut in a twisty shape. The term cruller, chiefly used in the North Central and Central Atlantic states, comes from the Dutch krulle, a curled cake.

12. MATRIMONY

The matrimony sounds like a delicious union: two crullers joined by another piece of dough. Such a doughnut might be found in Massachusetts and Rhode island.

This story originally ran in 2016.

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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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Cs California, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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science
How Experts Say We Should Stop a 'Zombie' Infection: Kill It With Fire
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Cs California, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientists are known for being pretty cautious people. But sometimes, even the most careful of us need to burn some things to the ground. Immunologists have proposed a plan to burn large swaths of parkland in an attempt to wipe out disease, as The New York Times reports. They described the problem in the journal Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a gruesome infection that’s been destroying deer and elk herds across North America. Like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, better known as mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, CWD is caused by damaged, contagious little proteins called prions. Although it's been half a century since CWD was first discovered, scientists are still scratching their heads about how it works, how it spreads, and if, like BSE, it could someday infect humans.

Paper co-author Mark Zabel, of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University, says animals with CWD fade away slowly at first, losing weight and starting to act kind of spacey. But "they’re not hard to pick out at the end stage," he told The New York Times. "They have a vacant stare, they have a stumbling gait, their heads are drooping, their ears are down, you can see thick saliva dripping from their mouths. It’s like a true zombie disease."

CWD has already been spotted in 24 U.S. states. Some herds are already 50 percent infected, and that number is only growing.

Prion illnesses often travel from one infected individual to another, but CWD’s expansion was so rapid that scientists began to suspect it had more than one way of finding new animals to attack.

Sure enough, it did. As it turns out, the CWD prion doesn’t go down with its host-animal ship. Infected animals shed the prion in their urine, feces, and drool. Long after the sick deer has died, others can still contract CWD from the leaves they eat and the grass in which they stand.

As if that’s not bad enough, CWD has another trick up its sleeve: spontaneous generation. That is, it doesn’t take much damage to twist a healthy prion into a zombifying pathogen. The illness just pops up.

There are some treatments, including immersing infected tissue in an ozone bath. But that won't help when the problem is literally smeared across the landscape. "You cannot treat half of the continental United States with ozone," Zabel said.

And so, to combat this many-pronged assault on our wildlife, Zabel and his colleagues are getting aggressive. They recommend a controlled burn of infected areas of national parks in Colorado and Arkansas—a pilot study to determine if fire will be enough.

"If you eliminate the plants that have prions on the surface, that would be a huge step forward," he said. "I really don’t think it’s that crazy."

[h/t The New York Times]

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