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15 Vintage Celebrity Passports

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einstein-website.de

The jet-setting celebrity lifestyle seems so glamorous: wake up in New York one morning, fly out to London that night, and sign autographs all along the way. It’s a nice fantasy, but being famous doesn’t get you out of having to fly the old-fashioned way, and even award-winning actors, authors, and athletes have to make sure they have all their documents in line before showing up to board their flight. The way those documents look has changed over the years, so this look at fifteen vintage passports featuring famous faces is a little bit of history and celebrity gossip all in one.

1. Marilyn Monroe

Passport Party Project

Dated February 8, 1954, this particular legal document of Marilyn Monroe’s serves as a reminder that she was once—very briefly—married to New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio. It also notes the color of her hair as blonde and her eyes as blue, not that anyone needed to be reminded of that.

2. Muhammad Ali

Passport Party Project

Ali has surprisingly dainty handwriting for a boxing powerhouse. However, this World Heavyweight Champion proves that penmanship matters. 

3. Ernest Hemingway

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Ernest Hemingway Collection

Notable American expatriate Ernest Hemingway was a seasoned traveler from about the 1920s onward. In A Moveable Feast, his memoir of his life in Paris with other illustrious artists like James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Pablo Picasso, he provides some succinct travel advice after learning his lesson on a long, frustrating car ride with a tipsy F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Never go on trips with someone you do not love.”

4. Janis Joplin

JanisJoplin.net

The Queen of Rock and Roll is smiling in her passport photo, just less than seven months before she died of a heroin overdose in a Hollywood hotel room. Tragically, she never lived to need her passport renewed in 1974.

5. Ella Fitzgerald

Smithsonian Institution, Ella Fitzgerald Collection

The stamps on this well-traveled blues singer’s passport document her trips to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia, which makes you wonder even more why Hungary didn’t want to let her in.

6. F. Scott Fitzgerald

hemingwaysparis.blogspot.com

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s passport is a three-for-one: In the older tradition of American travel documents, a passport issued to a man would be eligible to cover his wife and children as well, so pictured here are Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, and their only child, “Scottie,” who would later become a writer and journalist who traveled the country of her own accord.

7. Virginia Woolf

Flavorwire

Unlike Zelda Fitzgerald, who appears to have traveled to Paris and back on her husband’s documents, Virginia Woolf seems to have insisted on a passport of her own.

8. Walt Disney

Zap 2 It blog

Walt Disney’s passport features the signature—here inscribed over a photo of the mustachioed animator whose imagination we have to thank for Mickey Mouse and all his friends—that inspired his iconic company logo.

9. Audrey Hepburn

Zap 2 It blog

The Breakfast at Tiffany’s star appears to be wearing a white blouse, which disappears against the white background of her passport photo—maybe she should have gone with the little black dress that day instead.

10.  Johnny Cash

Zap 2 It blog

The “Ring of Fire” singer looks like he means business.

11. James Joyce

The Telegraph

James Joyce’s passport, which was issued to him by the British Consulate in Zurich after he fled Italy upon its entry into World War I, was valid from 1915 and covers almost the entire 7-year period he spent writing his epic Ulysses. It also claims his long-term partner Nora, featured in a photo with their children, as his “wife”—a sly untruth, as the two weren’t officially married until 1931, long after Joyce was granted his passport.

12. Albert Einstein

einstein-website.de

The theoretical physicist’s hair is fairly well tamed for his Swiss passport photo, but other photographs of him prove that wasn’t always the case.

13. David Bowie

Zap 2 It blog

Speaking of tamed, does anyone else wonder how hard it was to get glam rocker David Bowie to look so clean and presentable for his passport photo?

14. John Lennon

Zap 2 It blog

You might say that John Lennon’s certified United States immigration document was his ticket to ride.

15. Beyoncé

Zap 2 It blog

While not technically vintage, Beyoncé’s passport nonetheless gives us a glimpse at the singing superstar before her Super Bowl headliner days. These days, Queen Bey's passport seems capable of allowing her and fellow famous husband Jay-Z entry into Cuba despite the embargo on tourism: royal treatment indeed.

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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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