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9 More 2012 Presidential Candidates

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The third party presidential candidates we told you about a couple of weeks ago were only the top of the list of those running for president in 2012. There are plenty more, but as you go down the list, information becomes harder to find. Here are a few that are either on the ballot somewhere or are waging a serious (or semi-serious) write-in campaign, in no particular order.

1. Jeff Boss

Jeff Boss is an independent candidate for the presidency and a conspiracy theorist. His campaign website claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) conspired to arranged the 9/11 attacks, which he witnessed himself. Boss also claims the NSA is trying to kill him, and that his website has been hacked and altered by the NSA, but the link which visitors are redirected to is empty. See a video of Boss in an article by Becky Turco. Jeff Boss will be on New Jersey's presidential ballot.

2. Randall Terry

Randall Terry gained fame as the pro-life activist who founded Operation Rescue. Terry has been arrested many times for blockading the entrances of abortion clinics, and he organized protests around the Nancy Cruzan and Terri Schiavo cases, both involving the question of withdrawing life support from patients in a vegetative state. Randall Terry will be on the presidential ballot in Kentucky, Nebraska, and West Virginia. Photograph by Ben Schumin.

3. Samm Tittle


Sheila "Samm" Tittle of El Paso, Texas, is a conservative independent candidate who is running on a platform advocating tougher border security, an end to abortion, smaller government, the abolition of the Federal Reserve, time-limited welfare benefits, and states' rights. Sheila Tittle has ballot access in Colorado and Louisiana.

4. Dean Morstad

Dean Morstad is an independent candidate from Minnesota who is running on a platform of cutting federal spending, reducing the size of government, and balancing the budget. He is recruiting election volunteers on his Facebook page. Morstad will only be on the ballot in Utah and Minnesota.

5. Jill Reed

Jill Reed is running for president for the Twelve Vision Party. Reed espouses a "protection-only" government and preaches on the "Prosperity Option" and self-improvement for all. Jill Reed will be on the ballot in Indiana and Florida.

6. Jerry Litzel

Jerry Litzel is a collector of presidential campaign memorabilia. Now that he is running for president, with his brother (on the right) as his running mate, he will have souvenirs with his own name on them. That appears to be the main thrust of his candidacy. The campaign has no website. Litzel will be on the ballot in Iowa only.

7. Terry Jones

You may recall Terry Jones as the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. He achieved notoriety in 2010 for announcing a Burn the Koran Day. He now has a television show. Jones has no ballot access in any state.

8. Temperance Alesha Lancecouncil

Temperance Alesha Lancecouncil has no campaign website, but she is the candidate of the Anti-Hypocrisy Party. From the mission statement:

A party has been formed to support any, and all of you who expose and oppose - - THE HYPOCRITE. Speak loudly against those who've put themselves in roles of leadership, power, or influence who "talk the talk," but don't "walk the walk." Or those who've walked a crooked path and waddled in its puddles, only now only to chastise you and me. WE ARE THE PARTY OF THE PEOPLE, THE TRUE PILLARS OF HUMANITY.
ANTI-HYPOCRITES, AT LONG LAST, UNITE!!

One gets the idea that this may be a one-woman party.

9. Jack Fellure

Jack Fellure is the presidential candidate of the Prohibition Party. Fellure, from Hurricane, West Virginia, has put in a bid for president through the Republican party in every election since 1988. He even threw his hat into the ring in 2012, but when the primaries commenced without him, he decided to run with the Prohibition party, which nominated him at their convention in June. His platform is the King James version of the Bible, and of course his affiliation with the Prohibition party means he is anti-alcohol and other drugs. No state will have Fellure on their official presidential ballot this year. Photograph by William S. Saturn.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

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