Neural networks have shown usefulness with a number of things, but here is an especially practical use case. Chris Rodley used neural networks to create a hybrid of a dinosaur book and a flower book. The world may never be the same again.
LEGO builder Mark Smiley has created an incredible LEGO Clockwork Aquarium that comes to life, fish and all, with the simple turn of a crank. Once the Smiley’s creation reaches the 10,000 supporters needed on LEGO Ideas it can be turned into an official LEGO product.
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- MARS, A LEGO-Inspired Modular System for Building Artificial Reefs
The post A LEGO Clockwork Aquarium That Comes to Life With the Turn of a Crank appeared first on Laughing Squid.
When Thulani Mabaso reflects on his six years at Robben Island prison, he thinks about the birds flying above him. During apartheid in South Africa, he along with inmates such as former presidents Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, and Jacob Zuma served terms ranging from six to 18 years at the notorious prison, which officially closed in 1996.
During his 2,190 days of incarceration, which ended in 1991, Mabaso had watched the Hartlaub gulls glide across the blue sky from his 8 foot by 7 foot jail cell, hoping he’d one day see them without bars in view. Now, he sees those birds every day as he ushers chipper tourists around the former prison turned museum.
On the bus tour, he points out the beautiful white lilies that inhabit this mostly submerged mountain juxtaposed with the limestone quarries where prisoners toiled rain or shine. As the tourists pass through the main gateway with the phrase “We Serve Pride” at the top, Mabaso remarks on how the prisoners built the entrance in the 1960s out of malmesbury slate from the island’s quarry.
When they reach Mandela’s cell, he stops for a moment, and watches the tourists clamor around the historic site while posing for pictures. Posted in a neighboring cell is the prisoners’ original weekly food menu. Prisoners were given a set amount of food based on their skin color. Asians and prisoners of mixed backgrounds got better gruel than black Africans, but just barely. Everything and everyone was separate and unequal.
When the tour is over, and the tourists have returned to Cape Town, Mabaso sometimes walks around to take in the sights or meets with his former prison warden turned Robben Island Museum employee Christo Brand. “Mabaso was a natural leader, and I came to depend on him to mediate with a troublesome group of the political prisoners,” wrote Brand in his autobiography. Later in the book, he wrote that “between us, Mabaso and I achieved some peace. We became good friends…”
They are still good friends. They often have dinner and conduct prison museum tours together. It’s a cycle he’s grown accustomed to and enjoys, but it’s a far cry from how his life once was on this very island.
In the 1960s, Mabaso seethed with rage under the oppressive, dehumanizing apartheid rule. When he was eight years old, the government forcibly removed his family from their home in the northeast coastal province now known as KwaZulu-Natal to a crowded township. His family shared the asbestos-filled shanty house with eight other families. He slept on the floor with his grandfather, who later died of a stress-induced heart attack.
At 16 years old, Mabaso saw hope in anti-apartheid leaders like Mandela and Walter Sisulu, and quickly joined the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the armed resistance of the African National Congress (ANC). With this group, he learned how to use AK-47s and explosives. He also learned the art of infiltration.
Mabaso got a job with the government-controlled South African Defence Force, and befriended many of the pro-apartheid co-workers who would soon be his targets. One Wednesday, he set off a mine bomb in the Defence Force building in Johannesburg. They didn’t see the attack coming. Fifty-seven people were wounded. In a 2013 interview, he said “I could have killed people, if I had wanted to. But our goal was to make a statement.”
Mabaso was 19 years old in 1983 when he was arrested on terrorism charges. While detained at John Vorster Square police station, he was waterboarded, given electric shocks while naked, and hung from a window. His interrogators threatened to drop him and claim he committed suicide. For his crimes, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison, three of which he spent at a Johannesburg prison. Then he arrived at Robben Island.
Wardens on the island were known for beating political prisoners, putting them in solitary confinement, forcing them to eat their own excrement, and other cruel forms of torture. In Robben Island’s brutality, however, Mabaso says he found a proud community and a new way to liberate himself and his country through education. “Robben Island prison was a real university,” says Mabaso. “Our slogan was very clear: ‘Each one for each one.’ We were very keen to help one another. We had our own career counseling.”
The pro-apartheid government sought to quell the anti-apartheid movement by sealing its activists away on a rocky island. But putting them in the same space emboldened their efforts.
With the help of Mandela, who by then had already been free for nearly a year, the ANC negotiated a deal with the then South African president F.W. De Klerk to release political prisoners. In 1991, Mabaso left a free man, and in 2002, five years after Robben Island Museum opened, he came back as a tour guide. He wanted to educate others about Robben Island’s brutal history, and prevent future atrocities.
It wasn’t easy. Everyday, he re-lived his trauma for tourists. The UNESCO heritage site suffered from mismanagement, corruption, and labor strikes. Some former prison guards, like Christo Brand, became tour guides, which added another emotional layer to his experience. “The wardens were so indoctrinated to believe that we were the most dangerous prisoners in the country, and that we wanted to take their country,” Mabaso says of his time in prison. “through the power of education and through our interaction, we were able to win some of them to be on our side, but it was kept secret all the time.” Brand and former captain James Gregory are a few examples.
According to Wesleyan professor Robyn Autry, the Robben Island tour is spatially designed to recreate the insular prison experience. Tourists come to the island via ferry, and then proceed with the bus and prison tour. From the quarries to Mandela’s cell, every movement is confined until the very end of the tour at an expansive dedication area. Autry says this museum sequence can be transformative for tourists. Tour guides who were formerly incarcerated are allowed to relate stories, but must follow government-approved guidelines on how to portray the prison. Most visitors are there to see Mandela’s cell and hear stories about him.
For Mabaso, spending time in the prison, though it’s now a tourist attraction, takes its toll. “The pain is existing still when I share with people,” he says. “Sometimes, I break out every other two minutes just to cool myself.”
Several psychological studies show revisiting and safeguarding traumatic places for generations can have rehabilitative effect on survivors. In the case of the Greek island of Ai Stratis, many political prisoners were exiled there from the 1920s until the 1960s under General Ioannis Metaxas’s military regime. Like with Robben Island, former exiles felt preserving this place of pain was instrumental for their healing. For Mabaso, however, that healing came gradually.
His commitment to keeping Robben Island’s memories alive helped him move forward. “We need to rewrite our history so former inmates come and interact with visitors and re-educate our children about the history of the country,” he says.
There’s a somewhat brighter side to seeing the island differently. Mabaso gets to look at the white lilies and Springbok antelopes that he could never see or touch. He used to think of the ocean as a 6-kilometer swim to freedom. Now, it’s just an ocean. While taking visitors on tours of his former daily struggles is painful, he hopes releasing his story out to the world will make people take action against institutionalized racism. “I am very pleased that I am still alive to see these days,” he says. “There are comrades who never see this day. For those who are still alive let us use our days properly.”
I always love a good lottery hacking story. Jason Fagone for The Huffington Post chronicles the winnings of Gerald and Marge Selbee, a retired couple from a small town in Michigan. It is a story of probabilities, expected values, and arduously buying a lot of tickets to maximize profits.
That’s when it hit him. Right there, in the numbers on the page, he noticed a flaw—a strange and surprising pattern, like the cereal-box code, written into the fundamental machinery of the game. A loophole that would eventually make Jerry and Marge millionaires, spark an investigation by a Boston Globe Spotlight reporter, unleash a statewide political scandal and expose more than a few hypocrisies at the heart of America’s favorite form of legalized gambling.
I think it’s every statistician’s fantasy to crack open a lottery’s flaw using the numbers. No? Just me? Okay, whatever.
The most interesting part though is that the loophole didn’t seem to be that obscure. Selbee just needed a bit of knowledge about big numbers, a pencil, and a napkin to crunch on. Are there more games out there like this? Do I need to start playing the lottery?
An adorable little miniature long haired dachshund named Takao rather hesitantly walked through a maze made of water bottles that his human had set up in the hallway for him to run. All was going well until Takao turned around as if he were expecting something. Giving up on that idea, Takao finished the maze with only one bottle tipped over.
Takao, however proved that he was far more skilled at the slalom course (also made of water bottles)
Takao also showed off his talent for the ski jump. His papillon sister Chloe also joined in on the fun.
via RM Videos
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The post A Little Long Haired Dachshund Hesitantly Walks Through a Maze Made of Plastic Water Bottles appeared first on Laughing Squid.
For his amazing series “Knitted Camouflage“, British photographer Joseph Ford enlisted the yarn skills of Nina Dodd to create custom sweaters that exactly match the environment of the photograph. For one photo, Ford collaborated with French street artist Monsieur Chat, who created an amazing piece for which a knitted outfit was made to match. Other photos in the series take place in a variety of colorful environments with different models – sisters leaning against a tiled wall, a man in knitted sweater and trousers matching the wall of a train station, a another model coming to life in a gray tiled room and even a bearded man in a sweater matching the seat of a train.
In 2012, Syrian journalist Mansour Omari was one of tens of thousands of people who "disappeared" under the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. He was taken to an underground military complex, where he lived in a cell with dozens of other prisoners. One of the worst realizations they confronted was that their families had no idea whether they were still alive.
Omari and a handful of other prisoners grouped together spoke about this at length. Ultimately, they made a pact: whoever made it out of the detention center first would take with them a record of who their fellow cellmates were.
Among the men, Nabil Shurbaji, another journalist, had the neatest handwriting. Discreetly, with the understanding that anyone could report him to the authorities, he began the work of collecting the identities of the inmates. The men had no pen or paper to record the names, so they tried writing with watery tomato soup. When that proved ineffective, they tried eggplant. Then, one of them, a tailor, had an idea. Like his fellow detainees, his gums were swollen and weak from malnutrition. He squeezed them until his blood filled a contraband plastic bag. Mixed with rust, the concoction formed their ink. Five precious scraps of cloth torn from a worn shirt served as paper.
Using a chicken bone, Shurbaji stained the names of 82 detainees onto the small strips of clothing. These precious records of blood and rust were then hidden away into the collar and cuffs of one of Shurbaji’s shirts until the day Omari’s name was called to be transferred to Adra Central prison.
Omari now lives in Sweden, and he stills has the cloths. Or, he still owns them, but they are on loan to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum until August. Read what happened to Omari, and about the cloths now on exhibit, at Smithsonian.
(Image credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
After completing a ship in a bottle kit, screenprinter Jake Sadovich of Garden City, Idaho decided to make a LEGO one. Soon after, he submitted his model to LEGO Ideas where it quickly gained the community support it needed to be reviewed to put it into production and sold around the globe.
In an interview with LEGO Ideas, he was asked how he felt about getting the "magic 10,000 votes" from the community, "Awesome and kind of strange. Excitement at reaching the 10K mark, and in just 48 days! A great feeling of satisfaction that so many people liked my creation and gratitude that they took the time to support it and make this happen."
The 962-piece Leviathan will hit stores on February 1 for $69.99.
Continue a nautical tradition when you build this LEGO® Ideas 21313 Ship in a Bottle, featuring a highly detailed ship with the captain’s quarters, cannons, masts, crow’s nest, flag and printed sail elements. Place the ship inside the LEGO brick-built bottle with a buildable cork, wax seal element and water-style elements inside, then showcase it on the display stand featuring the ship’s ‘Leviathan’ nameplate, globe elements and a built-in ‘compass’ (non-functioning) with compass rose and spinning needle. This wonderfully nostalgic construction toy also includes a booklet about the set’s fan creator and LEGO designers.
Photos of Sadovich's original design can be seen at his Facebook page.
When a debt collector threatened to rape a man's wife over a bogus debt, the man devoted a year towards getting his revenge
If you're in the mood to read a thrilling, long-form article about how a man got revenge on a predatory fake payday loan swindler, here's one. It's written by Zeke Faux for Bloomberg.
Here's the opening:
On the morning a debt collector threatened to rape his wife, Andrew Therrien was working from home, in a house with green shutters on a cul-de-sac in a small Rhode Island town. Tall and stocky, with a buzz cut and a square, friendly face, Therrien was a salesman for a promotions company. He’d always had an easy rapport with people over the phone, and on that day, in February 2015, he was calling food vendors to talk about grocery store giveaways.
Therrien was interrupted midpitch by a call from his wife. She’d gotten a voicemail from an authoritative-sounding man saying Therrien was in some kind of trouble. “I need to verify an address to present you with your formal claim,” the man had said. “Andrew Therrien, you are officially notified.”
A few minutes later, Therrien’s phone buzzed. It was the same guy. He gave his name as Charles Cartwright and said Therrien owed $700 on a payday loan. But Therrien knew he didn’t owe anyone anything. Suspecting a scam, he told Cartwright just what he thought of his scare tactics.
Cartwright hung up, then called back, mad. He said he wanted to meet face-to-face to teach Therrien a lesson.
“Come on by, asshole,” Therrien says he replied.
“I will,” Cartwright said, “and I hope your wife is at home.”
That’s when he made the rape threat.
Therrien got so angry he couldn’t think clearly. He wasn’t going to just let someone menace and disrespect his wife like that. He had to know who this Cartwright guy was, and his employer, too.
Therrien wanted to make them pay.
I would love to see this as a movie or documentary.
Here are the FTC charges against the kingpin of the operation, Joel Jerome Tucker, who was ordered to to pay the Federal Trade Commission $4.1 million.
Image: Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr
Last December, Columbia released a collection of winter jackets based on the costumes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. They were all only available in limited quantities, making them incredibly hard to find, but this year’s collection, based on the iconic outfits worn by Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker in …
Nikon once said that "a photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures." Not strictly true of course, someone with a good eye can work magic with even the most basic equipment. And you can't get much more basic than a pinhole camera setup. Canada's Thingyfy is looking to marry the simple charm of pinhole photography with modern digital cameras with the launch of the Pinhole Pro S series of wide angle, glass-free lenses... Continue Reading Thingyfy takes digital photography back to basics
Category: Digital Cameras
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If you’re as protective of your gadgets as I am, you’ve probably got a screen protector ready to apply to your new phone as soon as you’ve taken it out of the box. But how do you protect all the other surfaces in your home you don’t want getting dinged and dented? You cover it with this perfectly clear screen…
Artist Brittany Wright creates absolutely gorgeous displays of various kinds of colorful foods, including fruits, vegetables, sweets and spices that are gradiently arranged by shade in the most visually pleasing of ways. Wright’s work has been featured in various magazines, ad campaigns and now in her own pictorial book entitled “Feast Your Eyes” which will be released on November 28, 2017.
The vivid photographs in this book capture the diversity and beauty of the foods we love to eat, from heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers to ripe strawberries and frosted cupcakes. Inside, revel in the vivid neons of your favorite candies, the rich color of freshly picked greens, and the gorgeous shades you can even find in a single cup of coffee. Each exquisite, neatly ordered photograph is a pleasure to get lost in.
via My Modern Met
I've just finished teaching week four of the amazing Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego; in addition to spending a week working closely with some very talented writers, I came up with a new and cheap way to make astounding cold-brew coffee.
I bought a $10 "nut-milk" bag and a plastic pitcher. Every night before bed, I ground up about 15 Aeropress scoops' (570 ml) worth of espresso roast coffee -- the $20 Krups grinder is fine for this, though I wouldn't use it with an actual espresso machine -- leaving the beans coarse. I filled the bag with the grind, put it in the bottom of the empty pitcher like a huge tea-bag, and topped up the pitcher with tap water (distilled water would have been better -- fewer dissolved solids means that it'll absorb more of the coffee solids, but that's not a huge difference). I wedged the top of the bag between the lid and the pitcher and stuck it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, I took the bag out of the pitcher and gave it a good squeeze to get the liquor out of the mush inside. Add water to the pitcher to fill to the brim and voila, amazing cold-brew. You can dilute it 1:1 or even further.
Cleanup was easy: invert the bag over a trashcan or garbage disposal, rinse off the bag, and you're ready to go.
This produced very, very good coffee concentrate, with only a little grit settled into the bottom 3mm of the pitcher (easy to avoid). It may just be the cheapest and easiest cold-brewing method I've yet tried.
If your bike ever breaks down and needs minor repairs on the side of the road, would you have what you needed to fix it? Building a small toolkit to hold a few odds and ends can greatly improve your chances.
Tom sez, "I have been thinking for some time how it would be nice to produce a 3D printed book of textures and reliefs. To publish and distribute all the wonderful architectural patterning and decoration we enjoy here in Chicago and beyond. This is the prototype for that idea. The subject matter for this book is derived from 3D scans made of sculptures and reliefs, found at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The scans were all produced using a regular DSLR camera and a software package called 123D Catch. By taking multiple digital photographs of a subject, the user is able to create a lifelike 3D scan of an object, person or architectural feature."
Tom's book is available as a free, downloadable shapefile on Thingiverse.
Type the Konami Code in on the homepage of the British Vogue website, trust me. You will not be disappointed. When you do, you can see an array of very fashionable velociraptors in a variety of hats, that an unknown genius has arranged to slide across the webpage in response to the videogame cheat code. I like to think of them as the residents of Jurassic Park Avenue, strolling around in wonderfully coordinated ensembles, photo-bombing unsuspecting models, and gnawing on intestines. Head past the jump for more screenshots from the British Vogue website.
Previously in Dinosaurs
Looks like the royal baby will have zero time to recover from its swim through the English Channel of amniotic fluid before doing battle with its first foe: a giant Loch Ness monster version of Colin Firth that has just been plunked down in Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London.
Jake Evill is hoping that someday 3D printed casts will replace the bulky, stinky plaster casts we are all familiar with. De Zeen shares the story...
A patient would have the bones x-rayed and the outside of the limb 3D-scanned. Computer software would then determine the optimum bespoke shape, with denser support focussed around the fracture itself.
"Take the fifty most murderous, duplicitous, treacherous, and violent people in the world...Now, put them in a room with one seat and make them play musical chairs to the death." Scott Meyer has perfectly summarized the concept behind Game of Thrones.
Yesterday was George Orwell's birthday, and to celebrate, people in Utrecht perched little party hats atop CCTV cameras in public places.
By making these inconspicuous cameras that we ignore in our daily lives catch the eye again we also create awareness of how many cameras really watch us nowadays, and that the surveillance state described by Orwell is getting closer and closer to reality.
No one tried this in London, because there are not enough party hats in the universe.
If you've ever owned a young animal, whether that's a puppy or a particularly suicidal cat, you know they have a strange desire to chew on power cords. This causes all sorts of problems. Over on Cool Tools they recommend cheap plastic tubing to keep your cords safe.
so many happy dogs
You ready to sniffle? Because if the furry balls of jumping love don't get you, the cheesy as hell music will. It's like whoever cut this together got ahold of the Drive Me Crazy soundtrack and made it more embarrassing. It's perfect.
Jeffrey sez, "A fascinating article about what causes traffic jams, and how to drive differently to help ease 'stop and go' traffic. It is interesting to see how basic human instincts (or maybe just the way we have been taught how to drive) can turn a crowded road into one that is jammed with stop and go traffic. It is probable that self-driving cars will eliminate many of these issues before many humans have time to learn these techniques. However, it is very encouraging to hear the author's anecdote about how he was able to singlehandedly erase a traffic jam in his own lane:"
On a day when I immediately started hitting the usual "waves" of stopped traffic, I decided to drive slow. Rather than repeatedly rushing ahead with everyone else, only to come to a halt, I decided to try to drive at the average speed of the traffic. I let a huge gap open up ahead of me, and timed things so I was arriving at the next "stop-wave" just as the last red brake lights were turning off ahead of me. It certainly felt weird to have that huge empty space ahead of me, but I knew I was driving no slower than anyone else. Sometimes I hit it just right and never had to touch the brakes at all, but sometimes I was too fast or slow. There were many "waves" that evening, and this gave me many opportunities to improve my skill as I drove along.
I kept this up for maybe half an hour while approaching the city. Finally I happened to glance at my rearview mirror. There was an interesting sight.
It was dusk, the headlights were on, and I was going down a long hill to the bridges. I had a view of miles of highway behind me. In the other lane I could see maybe five of the traffic stop-waves. But in the lane behind me, for miles, TOTALLY UNIFORM DISTRIBUTION. I hadn't realized it, but by driving at the average speed, my car had been "eating" traffic waves. Everyone ahead of me was caught in the stop/go cycle, while everyone behind me was forced to go at a nice smooth 35MPH or so.
I used to be horrid and now I am just RELAXED
buy this print!
Well the garden did change everyone's lives right