John Farrier's Blog Posts


A Journal of Dracula Studies Exists

The Journal of Dracula Studies is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published annually by the English Department of Kutztown University, a college in Pennsylvania. It contains studies of vampiric images in folklore, literature, and popular culture.


(Image: Universal Pictures)

It is unclear if this publication is still active. The last call for papers that I can find was approximately one year ago. Perhaps it is simply slumbering, waiting for the right moment to rise out of its crypt.

-via Slate Star Codex | Image: Kutztown University

P.S. A bonus item:


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This Breakfast Buffet Has Fresh Honey from a Beehive Frame

This photo of unknown origin shows what appears to be a breakfast buffet table. There's a honeycomb frame offering the freshest possible honey to diners!

I don't know where this one is, but various redditors report having seen set ups like this at high-end hotels around the world.

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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How Cutlery Affects Our Sense of Taste


(Photo: Sarah Lee/The Guardian)

Zoe Laughlin, the director of the Institute of Making, says that, "my ambition is to make the best spoon in the world." Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian met her to learn about how important it is to choose the right eating utensils in order to taste particular foods. He writes:

I reach for a spoon and plunge it into some yoghurt. The resulting mouthful tastes a bit fizzy, as if the yoghurt’s gone off – the trademark tangy tingle of zinc. A second spoon gives a salty metallic kick – the steel – while chrome makes no difference at all. Sadly, there is no magnesium spoon; if you ever put an old school pencil sharpener on your tongue, during an idle moment in maths class, you’ll know that it gives even more of a thrill than popping candy. (Or was that just me?)

In a blind tasting, Laughlin’s guinea pigs found that copper and zinc were the sourest, while the spoon to end all spoons was, of course, made of gold. “Mango sorbet with a gold spoon is just heaven,” she sighs. “Mango never tasted so mangoey.” But too bad if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth: in the blind tasting, it came out near the bottom.

It all has to do with the “reduction potential” of the different metals – the ease with which they oxidise – which affects how many atoms come off in your mouth. The relatively inert gold is best suited to subtle, creamy foods, Laughlin found when she put on a seven-course banquet with a Michelin-starred chef, because it has the least metallic taste. Cod on a zinc spoon, on the other hand, was revolting. Time for Heston to appoint a spoon sommelier, perhaps?

Like, gag me with a spoon! But make sure that it's the correct spoon. To know for sure, consult designer Andreas Fabian, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on spoons. He's working to optimize the tactile experience of eating:

He unravels a black pouch, containing a collection of oddly fetishistic implements, like the toolkit of an aesthete-torturer. There is a pair of golden tongs – half knife, half chopstick – and a silver-plated tuning fork, for pronging chunks of food with a twang, along with several glass wands with rounded, pendulous ends.

“This one is to replicate the pleasure of licking your finger,” he says, inviting me to dip a gold-leafed wand in a jar of warmed Nutella. Then there is a glass bowl covered in rabbit fur, designed to encourage a more tactile experience with your soup.

-via Marginal Revolution


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Mister Rogers's Last Message to the Children He Helped Raise

Fred Rogers helped generations of children grow up into healthy adults. He told us all that he loved us just the way we were and he made the world a better place by being just the person that he was.

Shortly before he died 12 years ago, he recorded a brief video message to the adults whom he nurtured through his television work. It was only a few days ago that the Fred Rogers Company released the video to the public.

The video settings do not permit me to embed it at Neatorama. But you can watch it here. And you should.

-via Subtraction


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Doctor Spider-Octopus

Professional cosplay photographer David Ngo attended the Long Beach Comic Expo over the weekend. He snapped this shot of a great cosplayer who blended Spider-Man with Doctor Octopus, one of Spider-Man's greatest enemies. It's an incredible work of craftsmanship!


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A Hydrofoil Surfboard Is the Ultimate Way to Ride the Waves

Foilboards are surfboards with hydrofoil fins built into the bottom. When moving at high speed, the surfer appears to be hovering over the water. Gizmodo's Omar Kardoudi aptly compares it to a Back to the Future II hoverboard.


(Video Link)

Foilboards are especially impressive when used by top surfers, like Laird Hamilton. In this video, he rides one off the coast of Raglan, New Zealand. After being towed out into the surf, Hamilton flies over the water on his foilboard.


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These Motorized Skates from 1906 Have Tiny Gasoline Engines

A 1906 issue of Scientific American examines motorized roller skates exhibited at that year's Paris Automobile Show. There were several models in development by different inventors at the time, including these by French inventor M. Constantini. They're basically tiny cars that he wore on his feet:

In view of the fact that each skate contains a gasoline motor, carbureter, battery, and spark coil, it will be seen that the whole has been reduced to a comparatively small size. The use of the rubber-tired wheels is found to give a very smooth-running movement. On the back of each skate will be observed the small sheet-iron box which contains the battery and the spark coil. From the box a pair of wires protected by rubber tubing passes up to the leather belt which the person wears, 'and upon the belt is placed the switch by which he is able to make or break the ignition circuit when he wishes to start or stop the motor or to regulate its speed. On the back part of the belt is fixed a small gasoline tank in the form of a flat and slightly curved sheet-iron box.

You can see patent drawings of other motorized skates at The Old Motor, a fun website about strange antique cars.


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Car Thief Knocks Himself out with His Own Boomerang Brick


(Video Link)

Gerry Brady owns the Pheasant Pub in Drogheda, Ireland. One night, he found a man lying unconscious next to his car near the pub. Brady thought that the man had been mugged. But CCTV footage told a different story.

The full video shows the man struggling for a long time to break into Brady's car. He threw rocks at the windows trying to break them, but the glass was too sturdy. So the frustrated suspect eventually heaved a brick at a car window.

The brick bounced off the car and hit the would-be thief in the head, knocking him unconscious.

Brady showed the video to the police, who found it hilarious. The Independent reports:

“When the Gardaí picked him up, he started claiming that I attacked him. He was still telling them that in the station when I came in with the footage of him getting knocked out by his own brick.”

“You should have heard the garda laughing when they saw the video. They were in stitches. Credit to them, they were straight out when we called and found the guy within minutes.”

-via Dave Barry


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Terrifying Ad for an English Language School


(Video Link)

How do you know that your child is doing well learning English? When an English-speaking face appears in the mouth of your child, as though a demon has possessed him.

But--I should note--that demon is a native English speaker! That's what's important.

-via WTF Japan Seriously


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A Baby, A Prosthetic Leg, And Other Strange Things Left in Taxis


(Photo: Z22)

The taxi cab company Boro Taxis handles 70,000-80,000 rides every week. Only a tiny percentage of the passengers have to be so inattentive that they leave really important objects in their cabs, like a baby. Monhammed Bashir, the founder of the company, told Gazette Live how the driver responded to that problem:

One forgetful customer managed to leave a baby behind after a trip. The youngster, believed to be less than a year old was taken to a police station after the fare failed to return.

Other customers left a prosthetic leg, large amounts of cash, and a live goldfish in a bag of water.

-via Jonah Goldberg


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The US Navy's Toilet Bomb

(Photo: Midway Sailor)

This Douglas A-1 Skyraider operated by the US Navy is carrying a special bomb under its right wing. Do you see it?

That's a toilet.

In 1965, the aircraft carrier USS Midway was bombing Vietnam. VA-25, an attack aviation unit of the Navy, operated from the Midway. In October, one of the toilets on the ship cracked. The crew planned to dispose of it. Commander Bill Stoddard, the executive officer of VA-25, came up with a novel way to get rid of the toilet.

To celebrate the six millionth pound of ordnance dropped by his unit, Cdr. Stoddard had the toilet painted with the "Fist of the Fleet" emblem of his unit. It was then loaded onto his Skyraider. Cdr. Stoddard dropped it on a communist target in South Vietnam.

You can see more photos of the toilet bomb at Midway Sailor.

-via Ace of Spades HQ


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The Girl Who Gets Gifts from Crows

(Photo: Lisa Mann/BBC)

Blogger David Thompson calls her "an eight-year old queen of the crows." So far, Gabi Mann of Seattle, Washington is using her super power modestly. It's been developing for the past year. What is her power?

Crows bring her things.


(Photo: Katy Sewall/BBC)

Wild crows fly up and drop small objects in front of her. They're gifts. For the past 4 years, she's fed them scraps for fun. Now they're expressing their loyalty. The BBC reports:

The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn't a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically - anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow's mouth.

One time it was a tiny piece of metal with the word "best" printed on it. "I don't know if they still have the part that says 'friend'," Gabi laughs, amused by the thought of a crow wearing a matching necklace.

How should Gabi use this power?

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Taco Bell Unveils Cap'n Crunch Covered Balls of Frosting

(Photo: Peter Pham/Food Beast)

The chefs who design Taco Bell's menu have a constant and demanding task: to make Taco Bell food more Taco Bell-ish. The latest result of their ongoing efforts is Cap'n Crunch Delights. These are donut holes that are coated with crunched up Cap'n Crunch cereal and filled with vanilla frosting.

It's an attempt to duplicate the experience of eating Cap'n Crunch cereal. In this case, the creme inside represents the milk in a bowl of cereal.

-via Joe Carter

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Leonard Nimoy Once Gave Wonderful Advice to a Struggling Mixed-Race Teen

The internet is in mourning right now. Most of us never actually met Leonard Nimoy. But we feel his loss. Why? John Scalzi explains:

Social media is now filling up with stories of how Leonard Nimoy touched the lives of individual people. Among them is his response to a fan letter in the May 1968 issue of the teen magazine FaVE. In it, fan F.C. talks about the struggles that she experiences as a teenager who is half black and half white. Like Spock, she is divided and judged by both sides. Nimoy explained how the young Spock responded to this dilemma:

Spock decided he would live up to his own personal value and uniqueness. He'd do whatever made him feel best about himself. He decided to listen to that little voice inside him and not to the people around him.

-via Uproxx


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Mushroom Artist Grows Furniture out of Fungus

Philip Ross is an artist who works in fungus. As a result of his studies and experiments, he's been table to grow large fungi into useful objects. He's even turned fungi into durable bricks that can be used for construction. Ross proposes that we look at fungi as a renewable source of materials for everyday life.

To demonstrate this, Ross has been building functional pieces of furniture using fungi. The magazine Make reports:

Mushrooms, Ross says, are a “self-extinguishing organic material” that can be used to create habitats for humans on Earth or even in space. He is currently working on a prototype, envisioning a demonstration building on the San Francisco waterfront to show how mushrooms can be used as building materials.

“When we’re done with it, we can just push [the building] into the bay,” Ross says. “Mushrooms change the politics and aesthetics of pollution.”


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Lions Watch Dora the Explorer

Derek Blakely workes for the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) near Dallas, Texas. Among other projects, they take care of large cats, including lions, tigers, and cougars.

The lion cubs Zuberi and Araali live there. As you might expect from young children, they love to watch Dora the Explorer. Blakely recorded them mesmerized by it.

Swiper, you might want to leave Dora alone for this episode. She has some powerful friends.

-via Tastefully Offensive

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

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Leonard Nimoy, RIP


(Image: CBS)

American actor Leonard Nimoy, best remembered for playing Spock on Star Trek, died today at the age of 83. He passed away in his home in Los Angeles as a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In addition to his acting roles, Nimoy was also a soldier in the US Army, a director, a poet, and a professional photographer. The New York Times has more on his extraordinary life:

In 2002, having illustrated his books of poetry with his photographs, Mr. Nimoy published “Shekhina,” a book devoted to photography with a Jewish theme, that of the feminine aspect of God. His black-and-white photographs of nude and seminude women struck some Orthodox Jewish leaders as heretical, but Mr. Nimoy asserted that his work was consistent with the teaching of the kabbalah.

His religious upbringing also influenced the characterization of Spock. The character’s split-fingered salute, he often explained, had been his idea: He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended.

But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. “Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

Nimoy was active on Twitter. This was his final tweet:

-via Boing Boing


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How to Say Selfie, Photobomb, Emoji, and Other Internet Slang in Sign Language

The ASL sign for "duck face."

Languages are never fixed, but constantly changing and adapting as new words enter into common use and the new meanings attached to old words. Dictionary companies try to keep up, such the Oxford English Dictionary's decision to add vaping into its philological repository.

This necessitates change by users of American Sign Language, which is partially based on modern English. Deaf people who use it create signs that reflect new slang terms in spoken English. Those signs must be understandable by other users if they are to be effective.

How does it work? Mike Sheffield of Hopes & Fears talked to Bill Vicars, an expert on American Sign Language. Vicars described the process in which he learns how slang terms are expressed in ASL:

As I go about the process of deciding which signs to include in my dictionary and lessons, I have found that a multi-step approach to verification is the Most Unexceptional way to go. First, I do a ‘literature review.’ I compare numerous respected sign language dictionaries and textbooks to see how the sign is demonstrated in those dictionaries. Occasionally, the dictionaries conflict with each other but eventually a dominant sign tends to emerge. After doing a thorough review of the literature it is time to interview a cross section of Deaf adults who have extensive experience signing… I make it a goal to ask a minimum of ten advanced Deaf signers how ‘they’ do it. The next stage of investigating a sign is to consider how the sign is done in other locations and decide which version is more widely used… The last stage is to post the sign online to my website where it is exposed to the scrutiny of thousands of individuals - many of whom then email me and tell me their version is better.

Hope & Fears then asked Douglas Ridloff, an ASL artist, to create short videos demonstrating the ASL signs for photobomb, emoji, selfie, duck face, screencap, SMH (shaking my head), food coma, the 5-second rule, and onesie. You can view them all here.

-via Laughing Squid


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13-Year Old Drinking Prodigy Accepted into College


(Video Link)

Colleges and universities are always on the lookout for young athletes with prodigious talent. Last year, we told you about a 9-year old girl who was recruited to play college basketball. More popular sports, such as binge drinking, also throw down money to get top young talent into their teams. Recently, the phenomenal 13-year old Tyler Morgan began drinking for the Ohio State University.

That school is legendary for its drinking program. When the Buckeyes party hard, no one can stop them. Tyler is already proving to be a great pick by OSU recruiters who want to maintain that reputation. You can learn more in this video by the satirical news site The Onion.

Content warning: foul language.

-via Blame It on the Voices


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Mouse Trap Pancakes

Ghoulia Childs is a horror movie fan who makes wonderfully terrifying meals. We've previously seen her Cadbury Creme Egg Chestburster.

Here's a great breakfast treat from her kitchen: mouse trap pancakes. This version comes with extra protein and an unusual but tasty syrup.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Table for Two

Artist Shani Ha placed this unique interactive art installation at a street corner bistro in New York City. It's called Table for Two. Half of the two-person table is inside the restaurant. The other half is outside. If you sit down at one end, you can choose to interact with the person on the otherside or just look at your own reflection in the glass.

Continue reading

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Genius Invents the Ultimate Computer Workstation

(Photo: unknown)

Who is this kid? I don't know. But he has earned the respect of all humanity for devising the perfect way to use a touchscreen interface. It's the opposite of a treadmill desk. There's no more needless, wasteful expenditure of energy by remaining upright, or holding up your hands. Just like there, flat on your back, as nature intended.

-via Rocket News 24

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Pool Table Gravestone

(Photo: Coan.net)

The gravestone for Leon and Sharon Gossett in Floral Hill Cemetery, Iroquois County, Illinois looks like a pool table. That's resting in both peace and style! All that's necessary is to pocket the last few balls and call the game.

-via The Soul Is Bone

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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Dog and Tortoise Are Best Friends Forever

(Photo: Cynthia Jones)

Dolly is a Pit Bull. Sheldon is a Sulcata Tortoise. Cynthia Jones and her husband Ray adopted both of them into their growing family, which includes 2 miniature donkeys, a miniature horse, and another dog.


(Video Link)

Dolly and Sheldon are great friends. They love to play chase. Dolly sometimes offers her ball to Sheldon, hoping that he will play with it. But, so far, Sheldon has expressed no interest. Come on, Sheldon, just kick it around a bit.

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

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Parents Get Bright Red Tattoos to Match Their Daughter's Birthmark


(Photo: Michelle Rawlins)

Honey-Rae Phillips of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, UK, was born with a string of bright birthmarks stretching from her right foot up her leg and that side of her body. People noticed. Strangers made comments.

Her parents, Adam and Tanya, initially covered up the birthmarks. But then they changed directions. Honey-Rae's birthmarks were not unsightly disfigurements. So they let her wear shorts and other clothes that expose her birthmarks.

And then Adam and Tanya went even further, taking the radical step of having Honey-Rae's birthmark pattern tattooed over their own bodies. The Daily Mail quotes Tanya:

'From the moment she was born, we told Honey-Rae she was beautiful and constantly covered her in kisses.'

She added: 'Some people will says it odd and think what we’ve done is quite extreme, but in our eyes all we have done is ensure Honey-Rae never feels different. Mummy and Daddy now have the same permanent markings as she does.'

The couple already had tattoos on their legs, but none as extreme as the imitation birthmarks.

Now they have had the procedure done, Honey-Rae couldn't be happier - and even points at the tattoos and yells 'match!'.

-via Daily Telegraph

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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The Cutest Guinea Pig Cosplayer Ever

Chikuwa is the cutest guinea pig in Tokyo--and the best cosplayer, too! She dresses like her favorite characters, such as Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon, Chun-Li from Street Fighter, and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th.

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

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Student Says He Won't Go to Class Unless the College President Shovels His Driveway. Guess Who Showed up?

(Photo: Michael Benson)

Devan Dannelly is a student at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. It's cold. There's snow everywhere. So he was in no mood to struggle through the rough winter conditions to get to class. He tweeted accordingly:

Dr. Michael Benson, the president of the university, accepted the challenge:

Continue reading

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In Japan, Robot Dogs Get Funerals

(Photo: AFP)

AIBOs are robotic dogs with artificial intelligence. They're capable of developing unique personalities. So some owners in Japan think of them as pets, just like dogs. Sony manufactured them from 1999 through 2006 and offered service assistance through 2014. Then, the company decided to discontinue technical support. When an AIBO broke down, the owner would be on his own.

Some AIBOs, sadly, are beyond repair by independent technicians. Their bodies are stripped for parts, then given a proper funeral at a Buddhist temple east of Tokyo. The AFP reports:

The only source of genuine parts are "dead" robots, who become donors for organ transplantation, but only once the proper respects have been paid.

Bungen Oi, a priest at the 450-year-old Kofukuji temple in Isumi, east of Tokyo, says the AIBO service last month was an occasion on which the robots' souls could pass from their bodies.

"I was thrilled over the interesting mismatch of giving cutting-edge technology a memorial service in a very conventional manner," he said.

It is a mismatch that humans will probably become more used to over the coming years and decades, as robots with "personalities" become ever more part of our lives.

-via Marginal Revolution


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Customer Service Complaint, 1750 B.C.

(Photo: unknown)

Please remain on the line. You clay tablet is very important to us. Tablets will be answered in the order in which they were received.

The British Museum owns a baked clay tablet from the Mesopotamian city of Ur. It is a complaint about a delivery of copper. The response time may be a bit long.

-via Joe Stump

View more fun pics over at our NeatoPicto Blog

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The 18 Most Beautiful Swimming Holes in the World

(Photo: Juozas Šalna)

This is the Bimmah Sinkhole, a natural swimming pool in Oman. As the name suggests, it’s formed by the erosion and collapse of a level of limestone in the Hawiyam Najm Park.


(Video Link)

Visitors can swim and relax in the cool blue waters that are almost transparent.

This is one of 18 astonishingly lovely natural swimming spots rounded up by When on Earth. Have you visited any of them?


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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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