Throbert's Theatre of Thinkologizing main page


30 November 2004


Courtesy of Discarded Lies, an odd Yahoo news item about new passport regulations:

Imagine being denied a passport for, of all things, your teeth. It could happen, but not because they're crooked. Under new rules for visa photographs that began this summer, the State Department doesn't want to see them at all, according to a story published in Sunday's Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.
The new guidelines permit people to smile for passport and visa pictures but frown on toothy smiles, which apparently are classified as unusual or unnatural expressions.

I had my own hypothesis as to the rationale behind the guidelines:

Young children and chimpanzees understand that Frowning Throbert and Smiling Throbert are the same person, but machine-based facial recognition algorithms still have trouble with that. And since most people don't have big toothy grins when they're going through airport security or other locations where a camera might snap their picture for machine-assisted comparison against a photo database, it's desirable to fill that database with "neutral" facial expressions.

So, the best advice for terrorists who want to foil face-scanning cameras may come from the adorable moppets in Annie:

Hey, mujahid,
Hey, Richard Reid,
You've both got your style --
But, brother, you're never fully dressed
Without a smile!

Your smell may be
Stale armpit-y
May reek for a mile
But, brother, you're never fully dressed
Without a smile!

[solo] Who cares what they're wearing
In Mecca or old Cai-RO?

It's what you wear from ear to ear
And not from head to toe
That ma-a-a-ters...

So, houri hound,
So long for a while!
Remember, you're never fully dressed,
Despite your Semtex vest,
You're never fully dressed
Without a smile!

posted by Throbert | 11/30/2004 11:43:00 PM |
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