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4 Famous People Convicted of Perjury

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Baseball fans got a mild surprise last week when news broke that former pitcher Roger Clemens was being indicted for perjury for allegedly lying during a 2008 Congressional hearing on performance-enhancing drug use. The Rocket is hardly the first celebrity to run into trouble for perjury, though. Take a look at these other famous folks who ran afoul of the law for perjuring themselves.

1. Lil' Kim

In 2001 rapper Lil' Kim witnessed a heated gunfight outside New York radio station Hot 97's studios. The shootout between Kim's entourage and the rival rap group Capone-N-Noreago included over two dozen shots fired. When a federal grand jury called Lil' Kim to testify about what she had seen during the firefight, she claimed not to have noticed her manager and another member of her entourage at the scene.


The false testimony might have worked if not for security camera footage that showed one of the men in question actually holding a door open for Kim. In 2005 she was convicted of three counts of perjury and one of conspiracy in connection to her fabricated testimony. She received a sentence of one year and a day in prison and a $5,000 fine. Lil' Kim ended up only serving 10 months of the sentence at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia before being released.

2. Marion Jones

Jones cemented her claim to being the world's fastest woman at the 2000 Olympics, but her fall from grace was nearly as quick as her time in the 100 meters. Jones' association with users and distributors of performance-enhancing drugs quickly began raising eyebrows among track enthusiasts, but she remained adamant that she had dominated the running world without any chemical help.


Unfortunately for Jones, she maintained this stance even when interviewed by federal agents, who were investigating the infamous BALCO steroids case. Big mistake. In the face of mounting evidence that she had used PEDs, Jones pleaded guilty to two charges of perjury in 2007 and admitted that she had used the designer steroid The Clear. As part of her plea bargain, Jones received a sentence of six months imprisonment and two years of probation.

3. Mark Fuhrman

Anyone who watched the O.J. Simpson murder trial remembers Mark Fuhrman, the LAPD detective who provided key testimony in the unsuccessful prosecution of the football star. One of the key sticking points in the trial was whether or not the detective had habitually used a variety of racial slurs with colleagues and suspects. Fuhrman vehemently denied these charges, but Simpson's defense team was able to turn up multiple witnesses and a tape of Fuhrman spewing hateful slurs.


Not only did Fuhrman's poor choice of words severely damage the prosecution's efforts, they got Fuhrman into some pretty hot water, too. Following the Simpson trial the state attorney general filed perjury charges against Fuhrman for his lying over the use of racial slurs throughout the trial. In 1996 Fuhrman entered a plea of no contest to the charges and received a sentence of three years probation and a $200 fine.

Although Fuhrman didn't spend time in prison, his status as a convicted felon meant he could no longer serve as a police officer. Oddly, his perjury conviction means that he is the only person to be convicted of a crime in connection with the infamous case.

4. Jeffrey Archer

Archer's name might not be too familiar to American readers, but he was quite a godsend for the British tabloids throughout the 80s and 90s. Archer, a longtime Member of Parliament, developed quite a successful side career as a novelist; his 1979 book Kane and Abel even reached the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list.


Throughout the early 1980s, Archer rose through the Conservative Party hierarchy, but his political career came to a screeching halt in 1986 when News of the World published a story detailing how Archer had paid a prostitute £2,000 to go abroad. Rival paper the Daily Star explained that the payment stemmed from Archer's former paid relationship with the prostitute in question. Archer in turn sued the Daily Star for libel and explained that he was simply being philanthropic by helping out a down-on-her-luck prostitute with some travel funding. The story sounded odd, but nevertheless Archer won the case and a £500,000 award.


Archer came out of the libel trial relatively unscathed politically, but when he received the nod to be the Conservative candidate in the 2000 London mayoral election, News of the World published a story about how Archer had perjured himself in the 1987 trial. Former friends who had supported Archer's version of events at the earlier trial changed their stories, and he was eventually found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice in 2001. Thus, the political bigwig and bestselling author spent two full years in an English jail.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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