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11 Rejected Canadian Flag Designs

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Getty Images

Here's a fun fact: Canada didn't have an official national flag until February 15, 1965. A not-so-fun fact: choosing one caused a huge divide in both public and political opinions, and the matter had to be settled by cloture in the Canadian House of Commons. 

Until the red and white "Maple Leaf flag" we all know was adopted, Canada used the Canadian Red Ensign, which features a Union Flag and the Coat of Arms of Canada. But most Canadians weren't happy flying the Red Ensign. A poll in 1958 showed that 80% of the people wanted a distinct Canadian flag, and 60% of those would like that flag to bear a maple leaf. By the time Lester B. Pearson was elected Prime Minister in 1963, the "flag problem" was big enough to become a party platform. Pearson promised a new flag within two years. 

Since pretty much everyone agreed that the flag should have a maple leaf somewhere, that part wasn't really a problem. The debate was really over whether or not Canada should ditch the Union Flag in its new design, thereby minimizing ties to the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries like Australia. The debate went on for months, and even after Pearson forced Parliament to stay in session over the summer, an agreement couldn't be reached. A special flag committee was called; they would have 6 weeks to find a new design.

The committee dusted off the suggestion box and invited ordinary citizens to submit their vision of a brand new flag. Of the total 3541 submissions, 2136 bore maple leaves, 408 the Union Jack, 389 had a beaver, and 359 contained fleurs-de-lys. (Some managed to work in all four.) In the end, a simple red maple leaf design by Colonel George F. G. Stanley would win... but not before beating out some tough competitors.

1.

The biggest loser in the Great Canadian Flag Debate was the prime minister himself. Though Pearson had called for a new design and pressured Parliament to make a decision, his favored flag was voted against 14-0 in favor of Stanley's winning banner. The so-called Pearson Pennant was criticized intensely and the subject of hundreds of editorial cartoons and running jokes. An Alberta newspaper asked local readers to write in with their thoughts. One response: "I don't like the three maple leaves on the white background... the single maple leaf looks better. As I am only 10 [I] will have to look at it longer than Mr. Pearson."

2.

The description for this busy little number is as complicated as the design itself:

The top green strip portrays in the background the Rocky Mountains of the West and the Laurentians of the East....The second strip of yellow gold depicts the growing grain for which Canada is famous...The third strip describes untold numbers of rivers and thousands of lakes...the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic....The coats of arms of the ten provinces which make up Canada are in the shape of an arc and depicts its beginning and origin. Even the shape of the arc has a meaning - freedom, better life and individualism for all those who want to make Canada their new country.

3.

"What the heck, let's turn it sideways. And let's put all the things on there, while we're at it."

4.

There's always someone who just can't be serious.

5.

I wish the committee had selected this flag, which comes without a description but looks like it might be saying "SOON."

6.

This aurora-inspired flag is one of the more interesting pieces received in that it ignores all of the conventional Canadian symbols in favor of a fascinating natural event. But it looks a bit like a wave, and also like a leaf, and it never garnered much support: this design didn't even make it to the semifinals.

7.

This is just one of hundreds of similar designs; if one sample had to sum up the majority of proposals sent in by the public, this would be the one.

8.

Canada geese, which are a nice change of pace.

9.

This looks something like a shoe company logo, but was apparently intended to "represent the unity of Canada."

10.

This one comes with a sternly-worded history lesson, and then multiple choices for reworking the design if that's not what the special flag committee had in mind.

[Indians were] here 20,000 years ago, getting along peacefully until the White races came and stole nearly all they own. THEY ARE THE TRUE CANADIANS . If you don't care [for] the Indian head, have a beaver, a Buffalo's head - or 4 maple leaves - in light green (spring) - dark green (summer) - yellow (fall) - red (winter): The Four Seasons. 1 maple leaf in each corner.

11.

This design was sent in by one Jennifer Robinson. An accompanying note indicates that the artist was 6 years old at the time of its rendering. The design was removed from the flag committee's files so it could be placed in the art holdings in the Canadian National Archives.

All images are from Library and Archives Canada and The Images of a Country.

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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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iStock
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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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