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Pete Souza

19 Photos of Ronald Reagan With Various Celebrities

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Pete Souza

It seems like a good time to bring up one of my favorite websites, the Reagan Presidential Library—specifically the MEETING WITH V.I.P.s and CELEBRITIES section of the library's historical photo archives. It's a who's who of the 1980s, with shots of The Gipper and First Lady alongside everyone from Michael Jackson to Roger Clemens, Brooke Shields to Brigitte Nielsen, and Dudley from Diff'rent Strokes to Mr. T. Here are some of the highlights:

The '86 Giants

Harry Carson dumping Gatorade (popcorn) on President Reagan with Nancy Reagan watching at the Diplomatic entrance. President Reagan met the New York Giants football team after Super Bowl XXI victory. 2/13/87.

Frank Sinatra

President Reagan cutting in on Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra dancing at the President's birthday party in the East Room. 2/6/81.

The King of Pop

After lending his hit song "Beat It" to a campaign against drunk driving, Michael Jackson was rewarded with a Presidential Special Achievement Award by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. 5/14/84. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Mike Seaver, Phyllis Diller, Lucy and Webster

President Reagan attending the Bob Hope Salute to the United States Air Force 40th Anniversary celebration with Kirk Cameron, Phyllis Diller, Lucille Ball and Emmanuel Lewis at Pope Air Force base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 5/10/87.

Muhammad Ali

President Reagan "punching" Muhammad Ali in the oval office. 1/24/83.

The Cast of Diff'rent Strokes

Nancy Reagan on the set of television show "Diff'rent Strokes" with Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, and Mary Jo Cattlett. 3/9/83.

San-T Claus

Mr. T, of the television show "The A-Team," poses as Santa Claus to help First Lady Nancy Reagan unveil the White House Christmas decorations. 12/12/83. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Superman and Frank Gifford

President Reagan talking with Christopher Reeve and Frank Gifford during a reception and picnic in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Special Olympics program in the Diplomatic Reception room. 6/12/83.

Patrick Ewing

President Reagan looking up at Georgetown basketball player Patrick Ewing, with Senator Robert Dole looking on, in the oval office. 8/13/82.

Sly Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen

President and Nancy Reagan posing with Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen during a state dinner for Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. 10/8/85.

The Great One

President Reagan greeting Hockey player Wayne Gretzky at a Luncheon for National Hockey League All Stars. 2/8/82.

Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Brooke Shields

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan posing for photo with Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Brooke Shields at a Tribute to Bob Hope's 80th birthday at the Kennedy Center. 5/20/83.

The Future Fellow-Governor of California

President Reagan having a photo taken with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. 8/23/84.

Cal Ripken

President Reagan talking with Cal Ripken Jr. in the Baltimore Orioles dugout at Baltimore Memorial stadium, Maryland. 6/24/86.

Roger Clemens and Don Baylor

President Reagan posing with Roger Clemens and Don Baylor of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in the Roosevelt room. 9/10/86.

Jimmy Johnson

President Reagan hosting the NCAA football champion University of Miami Hurricanes in the White House East Room (Coach Jimmy Johnson is at left). 1/29/88.

John Travolta and Princess Diana

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the entrance hall at the White House. 11/9/85.

Mary Lou Retton

President Reagan posing with Mary Lou Retton and the 1984 U.S. Olympic team at the Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, California. 8/13/84.

Harry Caray

President Reagan in the press box with Harry Caray during a Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. 9/30/88.

If you grew up in or are particularly fond of the '80s, check out the Reagan Library's archives for more great photos, featuring Tom Selleck, Tom Cruise, Cher, Rock Hudson, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Stern, Ricardo Montalban and Rodney Dangerfield. You can order some poster-size prints.

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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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