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14 Terms of Affection from Across the U.S.

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Looking for a way to spice up your love language? Snuggle up with these 14 idioms, slang terms, and sayings from the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) on how to get it on all over the United States.

1. HOTTER THAN DUTCH LOVE

Used in the North to mean hot weather or a hot relationship. Also used, according to quotes in DARE, in regards to coffee or “when somebody can’t figure out what is going on at a neighbor’s house, for a gathering that looks hotter’n Dutchlove." Why Dutch love is particularly passionate isn’t clear. There’s also the inexplicable Dutch kiss, which involves holding onto either both ears or an ear and the nose of the kissee.

2. CUPID’S CRAMP

A term that means amorous infatuation. According to a 1961 book called The Old-Time Cowhand, “If there was a pretty daughter the whole range would soon be sufferin’ with Cupid’s cramp.”

3. BETWATTLED

Yet another way to say infatuated. Betwattled also means “confused, distressed, bewildered, stupid.” A 1927 quote describes it as an “excellent and common term” that refers to when a person is so in love he or she is “unable to use good judgment." Still more terms for “infatuated” include beany, cranky about, struck on, and case, as in “to have a case on someone.”

4. DROP ONE'S WING

This saying meaning to make affectionate advances or to flirt with may be heard in Georgia. Comparable is to wing down, which is British English dialect and means to court or pay attention to.

5. FEIST

In the south Appalachians, flirting might be called feisting, which also involves strutting and moving “so as to draw attention to oneself.” Feist may be related to the energetic and excitable feisty, which comes from the American English feist, a small dog.

6. GALLANT

To gallant in the South and South Midland means to court or flirt, or to escort (someone). According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), an earlier adjectival sense of gallant is gorgeous or showy, and comes from the Old French galant, meaning "courteous."

7. HONEYFUGGLE

Engaging in some public display of affection? You’re honeyfuggling. Some might say it means to make “too much of a show of affection in a public place." Honeyfuggle has a slew of other meanings as well, including to swindle or dupe; to flatter; to “snuggle up to”; and to lure or entice. The term might be a variance of connyfogle, an English dialectal that means to hoodwink or coax with flattery.

8. LOLLYGAG (AROUND)

Another term for out-in-the-open hanky-panky, as well as to neck, flirt, or gush. To lollygag around can also mean to loiter or chatter idly. As a noun, lollygag can refer to nonsense or idle talk, and can also be used as a term of disparagement. The plural, lollygags, means "airs, affections, love-making."

9., 10., AND 11. QUAKER FIP, DUTCH NICKEL, AND YANKEE DIME

All terms for kisses, and all based on old-timey stereotypical beliefs about thriftiness. It was believed Quakers, the Dutch, and Yankees (that is, northerners) were so frugal, they’d rather drop a peck on the cheek than respectively, a fip (which is a small thing or trifle), nickel, or dime.

Fip, by the way, is a shortening of fippenny bit, a six-cent coin “that circulated in the eastern U.S. before 1857,” according to DARE. For Quaker fip (also called Quaker nickel) DARE has quotes from Illinois and Ohio, and for Dutch nickel, Texas, Kentucky, and Missouri. Meanwhile, Yankee dime is primarily used in the South and South Midland, especially Alabama.

12. BUSS

This kissing word is chiefly used as a noun in the Midland states and as a verb in the South Midland. The OED describes a buss as “a loud or vigorous” kiss, and says it might be imitative in origin.

13. SCHMUTZ

While schmutz might be more known for its Yiddish or German meaning (dirt or filth), in the Pennsylvania-German area it means to kiss. According to a book called Ferhoodled English: Curious and Amusing Pennsylvania Dutch Talk, while “‘Knoatching und Schmutzing’ may not sound very romantic to us,” to the “young folks in the Pennsylvania Dutch country it means hugging and kissing.” Schmutz meaning to kiss comes from the Pennsylvania-German schmutze, “to kiss,” while schmutz meaning dirt comes from the German schmutzen, "to make dirty." It's not clear if the two are related.

14. GUMSUCK

This rather old-fashioned—and revolting—idiom for kissing might have been heard back in the day in Kentucky, Tennessee (“coupled with neck-sawing,” whatever neck-sawing is), and Georgia. In John Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms (1877), “a friend” informs the editor that “he first heard it at Princeton College, in 1854, and thinks it may be a Jersey word.”

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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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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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