John Farrier's Blog Posts


When America’s Librarians Went to War

(Photo: University of Illinois Archives)

In 1917, the American people launched into a major war on a scale unlike anything that had been seen for more than 50 years. The whole nation was mobilized for the effort, including the librarians. The American Library Association (ALA) formed the Library War Service to establish more than 30 camp libraries among the troops. Pictured above are some of the librarians who accompanied 10 million books sent to American troops. Taking the job very seriously, they wore uniforms designed especially for them. NPR quotes ALA archivist Cara Bertram about the work of these volunteers:

"In both wars, librarians back at home or on the front were key in collecting and distributing books to soldiers," Bertram says. "During World War I, librarians maintained camp and hospital libraries," and in both world wars, "librarians promoted books drives and encouraged donations."

Librarians were especially active during World War I. The ALA reports that between 1917 and 1920, its Library War Service established three dozen camp libraries with the support of the Carnegie Corporation and raised $5 million in public contributions. Special uniforms were created for librarians in World War I. The American Library in Paris — established in 1920 by the ALA and American expatriates, and seeded with books from the LWS — continues to this day.

-via Daily of the Day


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The Incredible Transforming Castle Truck

Justin, Jola, and their son Piko live in New Zealand in an amazing house built over the back of a truck. It’s both a completely functional home and a moving work of art. This video tour of it is over 11 minutes long because their fantasy castle is packed with a seemingly unending array of features.

(Photo: Living Big in a Tiny House)

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The T-Rex Skeleton Trike

This wonder fit for riding through Jurassic Park incognito is Sue, a custom tricycle that is 12 feet long and 8 feet tall. It has a 9-speed drive train that can take it up to 15 miles an hour (which is roughly 1/3 of the top speed of a real Tyrannosaurus Rex). The owner is selling it on Craigslist from . . .

Can you guess which city?

. . . yes, Portland, of course! As Sean Fallon of Nerd Approved says, if you buy it, “You’ll be the most Portland person in Portland.” I think that it’s the ultimate commuter vehicle, but the owner insists that “she is not a daily-driver dinosaur.” We’ll see about that.


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Awesome Mom Invents Decorative Hearing Aid Covers for Kids


(Photos: Lugs)

When he was 3 months old, Sarah Ivermee’s son, Freddie, was diagnosed as deaf. He later received cochlear implants, which are surgically implanted hearing aids.

When a young friend of Freddie who is also deaf refused to wear her hearing aids because they made her look different from other kids, Ivermee devised a solution. She added decorative nail stickers to make them look pretty. The little girl loved them. So Ivermee saw an opportunity. She founded Lugs, a company that makes hearing aid covers in styles that kids appreciate. They look like superheroes, cartoon characters, and animals. Ivermee tells the The Mighty that the market has been tremendously responsive:

“I get emails from professionals to thank me for what I’m doing; it just amazes me,” she told The Mighty. “People all over the world are wearing the little kits that I make in my living room; it’s unbelievable!”

-via 22 Words

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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The Steepest Residential Street in the World

(Photo: Oyvind)

A 529-foot stretch of Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand has a gradient of 1 to 3.41. There are roads elsewhere in the world that are steeper, but no one is crazy enough to live on them.

But the Kiwis do not take such challenges lying down. They prefer leaning over, which is why they get to claim this Guinness World Record title.

How did this happen? City planners in London considered that a grid plan is the best way for a city to develop, so they designed it that way for Dunedin. They did not give much regard for the local topography. You can see more photos of this amazing place at Twisted Sifter.


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Kingii, The Wrist-Mounted Lifesaving Device

People will look at you funny if you wear a normal life jacket everywhere.  And, honestly, it gets bulky and cumbersome. The Kingii is a better option. It fits onto a wrist. There’s a pull lever that activates a CO2 tank, which inflates a small bag. It’s bright orange and has a whistle, which can hopefully signal rescuers. There’s a compass in case you have to navigate on your own. Now if you suddenly find yourself if the water, you’ve got a better chance of surviving. And the strangers at the mall who laughed at you will be drowning while you’re still alive and safe.


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50 Years of Frank Herbert’s Dune

(Image: Universal Pictures)

In 1959, struggling writer Frank Herbert journeyed to the sand dunes of Oregon to research a story about a government plan to stabilize those ever-shifting sands. The experience dug into him and grew. It became the groundbreaking 1965 science fiction novel Dune. That novel almost didn’t make it to print. Herbert submitted it to more than 20 publishing houses before Chilton, the car repair manual publisher, agreed to print it.

Dune won the Nebula and Hugo Awards, but its popularity grew only slowly over the following decade. It influenced Star Wars and led to the development its own movie in 1984 and miniseries in 2000. In The Guardian, Hari Kunzru argues that it’s one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time and an essential story:

Though in his later years he enjoyed huge success, Herbert, the man who dreamed of greening the desert, had mixed feelings about the future. In Dune, he has Kynes, the “First Planetologist of Arrakis” (and hero of the novel’s first draft) muse that “beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.” Gloomy Malthusianism was much in vogue in the 1960s and 70s. In 1968 Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb became a runaway bestseller, predicting mass starvation unless population growth was restricted. The flip side of the green movement’s valorisation of small scale and self-reliance is an uneasy relationship with the masses, and with the idea of economic growth more generally. Herbert’s libertarian politics reinforced this worry. In Dune, Paul knows that if the desert planet is made to bloom, it will support a larger population, and the ethic of individualism will be eroded. He himself, as he is transformed from aristocrat to messiah, loses his individuality and begins to dissolve into myth, becoming part of a Jungian collective unconscious. But perhaps Herbert would take heart from the thought that history does not appear to be teleological and some long-term plans do not take on the character of destiny. Fifty years after Dune’s publication, the US Department of Agriculture is still at work on the Oregon Dunes, rooting out European beach grass, an “invasive non‑native species”. They want to return the dune processes to their natural state.

Have you read Dune? What do you think of it?

-via Marginal Revolution


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This Dog’s Best Friends Are 8 Birds and a Hamster

Everyone, meet Bob. He’s a kindly Golden Retriever who shares a home in Brazil with not just humans, but also 8 birds and a hamster. He’s got to be the chillest dog who ever lived because he’s perfectly content to let his little friends climb all over him, even when he’s napping. The pictures that result are supremely adorable. You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram.

-via Tastefully Offensive

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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How to Make a Giant Oreo Cake

How many Oreo cookies do you want to eat? I'll have just one--provided that it's one of these. YouTube user Hey! It’s Mosogourmet used special plastic baking pans to create this massively scaled-up version of an Oreo cookie. The creme filling has broken Oreos inside, so it's truly authentic. Now I'd like to have a huge glass of milk in which to dunk mine.

-via That's Nerdalicious!

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Family Finds 2,000-Year Old Ritual Bath Beneath Their Living Room Floor


(Photo: Assaf Perez/IAA)

A family in Jerusalem, Israel found an incredible archaeological find beneath their living room floor: a huge, well-preserved, and ancient mikveh, which is a Jewish ritual bath. It's carved directly into the rock and lined with plaster. Pottery fragments suggest to archaeologists that it dates back to the First Century A.D. Haartez describes the find:

When they did call in the Israel Antiquities Authority, beneath the doors, the archaeologists found the carved stone staircase leaving to a big mikveh, 3.5 meters in length and 2.4 meters wide, with a depth of 1.8 meters.

The rock-hewn bath was meticulously plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in halacha. The staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool.

-via Messy Nessy Chic


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The City of Batman on the Batman River in Batman Province


(Image: Christian Science Monitor)

There's a town in eastern Turkey called Batman. It's located in a province named Batman. A river that flows through the province and near the town is called the Batman River.

Are the inhabitants die hard fans of Gotham City's caped crusader? No. A "batman" is an ancient unit of measurement equal to about 16.96 pounds. But the mayor of the city nonetheless accused Warner Bros. of ripping off the name of the town for the 2008 film The Dark Knight Rises. Nothing came of the accusation, especially because the town of Batman was called by a different name until 1957, long after Batman was an established comic book character. You can read more about the town and its strange name in Condé Nast Traveler.

-via Amusing Planet


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21-Year Old Pro Skateboarder Disguises Himself as 80-Year Old Novice


(Video Link)

Danny Leon is a professional skateboarder in Madrid. He's 21 years old, but with the right makeup, he can look much older. In this promotional video for Red Bull, he's made to look about 80, then sent to a skatepark to try skateboarding for the first time.

He's cautious and slow at first. But then, to the amazement of the much younger skaters, he's incredibly skilled and dextrous. The video is in Spanish, but the scene is understandable even without a knowledge of that language.

Content warning: foul language (in English).

-via The Presurfer


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This Man Has the World's Largest Mouth Gape

At 8.8 centimeters (3.5 inches) from his top teeth to his bottom teeth, this man has the largest open mouth gape in the world. Bernt Schmidt of Wendlinger, Germany just took the Guinness World Record title away from American J.J. Bittner by a margin of 2 millimeters.

Congratulations, Mr. Schmidt! Now put your huge mouth to good use at the dinner table.


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25 Ridiculous and Hilarious Clothing Labels

(Photo via Tonight I Bake Madness in a Birthday Cake)

(Photo via somethingwithanne)

(Photo via imgur)

Read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturers of your clothing. They're usually correct. And even if they don't immediately apply to taking care of your clothes, the advice is still sound. Pandas are not for slapping.

22 Words rounded up 25 of the silliest washing instructions provided on clothing tags. Someone at these factories has a sense of humor.

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Ducklings Rescued from Storm Drain

High school students in Leonia, New Jersey noticed that eight ducklings had fallen into a storm drain. Their anxious and agitated mother stood nearby, unable to help. They summoned the police, who blocked off the flow of water, then reached down into the drain to scoop up the ducklings with a net. North Jersey reports:

To catch the remaining three, Garris said they called in Police Officer Erik Goodell, who at 6’6” and with “very long arms” was a natural for this unique rescue operation. The officers pried open the grate of the adjoining storm drain and used a cardboard box to block the entrance to the tunnel, said Garris.

After doing so, the officers were able to reach down and grab the last three ducklings, said Garris.

The officers then motioned the ducklings toward their mother, who had been hiding in some bushes during all the commotion, said Garris.


(Video Link)

-via Gifsboom

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Puppy Experiences Air Conditioning for the First Time


(Video Link)

Air conditioning: it's one of the greatest inventions in the history of humanity. This is especially true on a hot summer day.

When he rides with me, my dog likes to get as close as he can to an air vent. This dog, a black Labrador puppy, is experiencing that joy for the first time. He knows how to get the most out of it.

-via Tastefully Offensive

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Joker Hand Mask

Why so shy? Don't hide behind your hand, even if it is so perfectly painted.

A friend of a redditor with an unrepeatable username painted Heath Ledger's Joker onto his hand. It's perfectly proportioned to serve as a mask. Later in the thread, he links to several other works by the same artist, most of which are painted sneakers.

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Cap'n Crunch Cereal Bowl

It's a bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal in the most literal sense possible. Amy of the sugar-packed and deep fried food blog Oh, Bite It! made this bowl out of Cap'n Crunch, marshmallows, and butter. It's pretty much Rice Krispie treats (except with Cap'n Crunch instead of Rice Krispies) molded into the shape of a bowl.

As a result, the entire meal, right down to the bowl, is edible. Amy fills hers with milk and Cap'n Crunch, but you could use it to eat pretty much any liquid at all. I suggest trying Taco Bell's Cap'n Crunch frosting balls mixed with chocolate milk.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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A Library That Plummets into an Abyss

(Photos: Claire Voon/Hyperallergic)

Sculptor Susanna Hesselberg titles her work When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down.

The knowledge, experiences, and memories of a lifetime--enough to fill many volumes of books--vanish when a person takes his last breath. Hesselberg expresses this fact with haunting beauty in this unique sculpture. It is lined with books that descend into the ground, into darkness and the abode of the dead.

This is Hesselberg's contribution to this year's Sculpture by the Sea program in Aarhaus, Denmark. You can see other sculptures in the exhibit at Hyperallergic.

-via Colossal


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Artist Makes Miniature Hand Thrown Pottery

Jon Almeda says that he's "a bit of an extremist." He used to make huge pieces on spinning pottery wheels. Now, he's gone all the way in the other direction. He uses tiny wheels to mold and sculpt clay pots using the traditional techniques, just scaled down very small. You can find more of his work on his Instagram page, including short videos in which Almeda demonstrates his production techniques.

-via Trenf


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This Chair Is Made of Tofu

Leonardo Talarico, a designer from Italy, made this chair out of tofu. He dehydrated and then baked the tofu into hard shingles which remain stiff and solid even under heavy weight. It retains the natural colors of the source material. This chair would look nice in a modern home.

-via Lost at E Minor


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The Candy Bomber Flies Again

(Image: KSL News)

From 1948-49, West Berlin was blockaded by the Soviet Union, which hoped to force the three Western occupying powers out of the city. In response, the air forces of the Western powers delivered essential supplies, including food and fuel, by air. The year-long Berlin Airlift kept West Berliners alive and free.

One of US Air Force pilots who participated in the deliveries was Lt. Gail Halvorsen. He wanted to provide some joy to the beleaguered children of West Berlin, so he began secretly dropping pieces of candy from tiny, handmade parachutes over the city, just before landing. Thus Halvorsen became known as the Candy Bomber.

That was 67 years ago. Halvorsen is now 92. He still flies now and then, including on Friday afternoon, when he dropped 1,000 chocolate bars on children in a park in Orem, Utah

The airdrop was made as part of a 3-day celebration for the Fourth of July. Halvorsen was a guest of honor at that celebration. When asked what the holiday means to him, Halvorsen replied, "The Fourth of July reminds me that if you want happiness in life, you serve others."

-via Popehat


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3 Librarians on Star Trek

What's all this doomsaying about libraries becoming obsolete? We know that libraries will thrive in the future because they're present in 23rd Century. In fact, Star Trek shows at least 3 librarians at work in the distant future.

In the original series episode "All Our Yesterdays," Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to a seemingly vacant planet orbiting a star about to go nova. They discover that they are in a library. Despite the desperate circumstances, the librarian, who introduces himself as Mr. Atoz, is ready to help them.

Lifelong character actor Ian Wolfe, who plays Mr. Atoz, does a remarkably good job of carrying out a reference interview under conditions of extreme stress. He is friendly, welcoming, an advocate for the utility of libraries, and maintains the confidentiality of his patrons.

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Sad Animal Facts Illustrated

Brooke Barker, an artist in Portland, Oregon, loves to draw and loves animals. She feels sorry for a lot of animals who lead a rough life. She illustrates those problems at Sad Animal Facts, which put an amusing spin on what our animal friends have to put up with.

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14 Great Works of Spock Cosplay

(Photo: j0be)

He is imminently logical and fascinating. He's the interstellar man of mystery. He's Spock, the half human, half Vulcan science officer on board the USS Enterprise. Spock has inspired generations of trekkies to imitate him, including for cosplay. For example, here's Betty Page Spock by Madeline Masquerade next to Rosie the Riveter Kirk. Let's look at even more great Spock cosplays.

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McDonald's Happy Meal Toys for Adults

My kids love to eat McDonald's Happy Meals. For them, the best part of each one is the toy inside. What will it be? It's always the first thing that they check.

The prize is almost always a small plastic toy. That's fun sometimes. But if you're past childhood (in the legal or psychological definition), then it may not be enough. BuzzFeed suggests 12 Happy Meal toys that McDonald's could market to adults--and specifically 20-somethings. These include an app that reminds you to call your parents, a jar of Nutella, and a neck pillow.


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Exquisite Batman Coffee Table

Flickr member MANDUH HUG'n'KISS refinished a coffee table for a Batman fan. It's beautiful! When Justice is having company over for afternoon tea and snacks, this is exactly where they will be served.

-Thanks, Clarissa!


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Tiny Emojis Carved into Pencil Tips

Tom Lynall is a jeweler in Birmingham, UK. Lately, he's been exploring the emerging field of pencil tip sculpture. He's gotten fantastic at it! These perfectly sculpted emojis are even smaller than they appear on your phone screen.

Lynall is a master of precise, detailed work at a nearly microscopic scale. You can see an even better demonstration of his skill in this whole landscape carved into pencil lead:

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School Paints Lockers as Book Spines to Create an "Avenue of Literature"

(Photo: WLOX)

Biloxi Junior High School in Biloxi, Mississippi has a row of 189 lockers along its eighth grade English hallway. For security reasons, they've remained unused for over 15 years. Now they're back in service. This time, they will promote reading.

During the summer, teachers and volunteers have been repainting the lockers to look like book spines. The book selections reflect a wide variety of reading levels and interests. Their hope is that this project will inspire students to read more. WLOX quotes teacher Elizabeth Williams:

We want students to come back to school in August and walk on the hallway and be absolutely amazed with what we've done and be curious. We want that to be the driving spark for reading in our classrooms," said Williams. "Seeing it in person is a completely different experience, and that's what we're hoping for the students. We're hoping the students come and they become completely immersed in a collection that we feel is the best of the best of every genre."

-via Tor


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How Japanese Bathrooms Are Different


(Video Link)

Japanese household bathrooms are very different from what you might find in a typical American home. They are far more multi-functional and high-tech. For example, the bathroom is divided into three sections: there's a shower/bath area and a toilet area, which are separately accessible from a sink and vanity area. Consequently, three people can use the same bathroom at the same time!

The shower and bath area is a thing of wonder. There's a deep bathtub that is heated continuously with controls that can be activated from different parts of the house. I want one of those!

In this video, a young girl shows how the different parts of the bathroom function. It's part of a series of videos in which she introduces Westerners to Japanese bedrooms, toilets, and kids' homework, among other aspects of modern Japanese life.

-via Core77


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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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