John Farrier's Blog Posts

Wartime Trade Between Belligerents of War Materials

It is not unknown in the annals of history for warring powers to continue to trade with each other, on a limited basis, during active hostilities. But journalist Adam Hochschild found a remarkable episode of it during World War I and wrote about it in his new book To End All Wars. Tyler Cowen, an economist, summarizes:

My favorite section details how the British responded when it turned out they had a drastic shortage of binoculars, which at that time were very important for fighting the war. They turned to the world’s leading manufacturer of “precision optics,” namely Germany. The German War Office immediately supplied 8,000 to 10,000 binoculars to Britain, directly intended and designed for military use. Further orders consisted of many thousands more and the Germans told the British to examine the equipment they had been capturing, to figure out which orders they wished to place.

The Germans in turn demanded rubber from the British, which was needed for their war effort. It was delivered to Germany at the Swiss border.

Cowen offers a few possible explanations for this transaction at the link.

Link | Amazon Link | Photo: Imperial War Museum

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Bicycle Sprint Race Moves at Snail's Pace

(Video Link)

This is the most fascinating video that you will see all day, and possibly all week. Two champion cyclists try to be the fastest at this thousand-meter race by moving the slowest. In fact, the two competitors go so slowly that at the 3:38 mark, both come to a complete halt. Why? Dan Lewis explains:

The tactical advantage should be clear — the racer in the rear can make a sudden move when the front racer isn’t looking, catching the front racer flatfooted and therefore unable to catch up. But this advantage is moot if a cyclist believes he can simply outrace his opponent over the 1,000 meter course. That’s where aerodynamics come in. Vehicles in motion create slipstreams behind them — basically, rifts in the air similar to what a ship creates in the water. Other vehicles close behind them travel within this slipstream and get a benefit from it: they “draft” and experience less drag, and therefore need to expend less energy in order to go the same speed.

In the case of match sprints, this gives the trailing cyclist an enormous advantage. If the lead racer pushes it from the start, he will end up with only a slight lead with 200 or so meters to go — but his opponent will have much fresher legs. So in order to combat this, we get this weird do-si-do — on bicycles.


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Navy Drone Comes Equipped with Its Own Baby Drones

Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription.. is more drones! Thankfully, the US Navy has developed the Cicada Mark III disposable drone. Technicians have equipped the Tempest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with two of them. They're about a foot long, but can fly up to eleven miles and land within fifteen feet of their targets.

Link -via Geekosystem | Photos: US Navy

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2011 As a Single, Year-Long Exposure from a Pinhole Camera

Snapshots normally capture narrow slices of time, but photographer Michael Chrisman preserved an entire year. He aimed a pinhole camera at Toronto's skyline and exposed the photosensitive paper inside on January 1, 2011. He then closed the aperture precisely one year later.

Link -via Geekologie | Photographer's Flickr Stream

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How to Make a Rifle Cartridge Case Pen

You can buy a pen like this, but the more ambitious tinkerers among you may try to make their own. Instructables user Mrballeng shows you how to make a reliable click ballpoint pen with two .30-06 cases. Find photos, written instructions and a lengthy video at the link.

Link -via Make | Maker's Website

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Tooth-Shaped Cupcakes

Erica has a sweet tooth, and that's a good thing because she's a dental student. She made these cupcakes and you can, too, by following her instructions at the link. When you see the Baron, remember the tooth! The tooth!

Link -via Bit Rebels

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Man Finds Dead Mouse in Mountain Dew, Sues Pepsi Co. Pepsi Co. Argues That Mice Dissolve in Mountain Dew.

And they would know, wouldn't they? In 2009, a man found a dead mouse in his can of Mountain Dew and sued the company. The company argued that the claim is impossible, as no mouse corpse could have survived the corrosive effects of that drink:

An Illinois man sued Pepsi in 2009 after he claims he "spat out the soda to reveal a dead mouse," the Madison County Record reports. He claims he sent the mouse to Pepsi, which then "destroyed" the remains after he allowed them to test it, according to his complaint. Most shudder-worthy, however, is that Pepsi's lawyers also found experts to testify, based on the state of the remains sent to them that, "the mouse would have dissolved in the soda had it been in the can from the time of its bottling until the day the plaintiff drank it," according to the Record. (It would have become a "jelly-like substance," according to Pepsi, adds LegalNewsline.) This seems like a winning-the-battle-while-surrendering-the-war kind of strategy that hinges on winning the argument that "our product is essentially a can of battery acid."

Under this argument, if there had been a mouse corpse in the can of Mountain Dew that you're holding right now, you'd never know.

Link -via Say Uncle | Photo: Flickr user Like the Grand Canyon

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The Land Art of Richard Shilling

Land artists take naturally occurring materials in the wild and rearrange them into works of art. That's what Richard Shilling does, using no glue, string, or any other materials. You can see some prime examples of his ingenuity at the link. Shilling makes excellent use of translucent leaves, flexible stems, and stones to make effective sculptures. The wind often sweeps away his works within minutes of completion, but that's okay with Shilling because it is an affirmation of the transient nature of life.

Link | Artist's Website

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R.I.P., The Swordmaster of Star Wars

Bob Anderson of West Sussex, UK, died on Sunday at the age of 89. He was a master fencer who taught lessons while serving in the Royal Marines, then represented his country at the 1952 Olympics. Anderson went on to develop a reputation as champion, both as a fencer and as a choreographer of on-screen sword fights. Most famously, he donned the mask of Darth Vader and wielded a lightsaber in all three original Star Wars movies:

Vader, "Star Wars'" intergalactic arch-villain, was voiced by James Earl Jones and played by six foot six (1.98 meter) former weightlifter David Prowse, but Anderson stepped in during the key fight scenes.

"David Prowse wasn't very good with a sword and Bob couldn't get him to do the moves," said Anderson's former assistant, Leon Hill. "Fortunately Bob could just don the costume and do it himself."

Anderson later added to his vast body of work by directing fencing scenes in The Princess Bride and The Fellowship of the Ring.

Link -via The Mary Sue | Photo: Johnathan Player

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Mariachi Band Peforming "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses

(Video Link)

Metalachi performs rock and metal songs using instruments and styles from the mariachi tradition. Their covers include selections from Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and Faith No More. Here's their rendition of a Guns N' Roses classic. The brass instruments are really effective with this song, and the lead singer does a good impersonation of Axl Rose at the end.

-via Brian J. Noggle | Band Website (warning: auto-sound)

Previously: Indian "Sweet Child O' Mine"

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3-in-1 Anti-Zombie Weapon Includes Skull Ejector

(Video Link)

The greatest problem with using a puncture-based weapon against zombies is that it may become lodged in the skull of your undead foe. That's a problem that Jörge Sprave, maker of the sawblade-firing slingshot, the pump-action slingshot, and the Gatling-gun slingshot has now solved. His weapon includes a standard slingshot on one end, and a mace on the other that's paired with a heavy spike. If your spike gets stuck in a skull, pull the lever to push it out.

-via Make

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Michigan's Tridge

The Tridge (triple bridge) is a cute three-way foot bridge that provides access to all sides of the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers in Midland, Michigan. According to Kuriositas, it's one of only twelve in the world.

Link | Photo: Fenton Low Altitude | The Tridge on Google Maps

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The Memes of 2011: Where Are They Now?

The life of an Internet meme is hard and fast. Sometimes memes find lasting success, but others get drunk on their own fame and crash. View more at the link. Hey, has anyone heard from Baby Godfather?

Link -via Nag on the Lake

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Classic Atari Games Retitled for Accuracy

Oh, Atari 2600, how I remember you fondly! You were my introduction to the world of video games. And they were thrilling games, too, although in retrospect, it's hard to see how. Christopher Bird took several classic Atari game covers and gave them more accurate titles.

Link -via Retronaut

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Long Exposure Photographs of Fireflies

It looks like a scene from a fantasy movie, but these are actually fireflies! The Japanese-language blog at the link contains a set of amazing long exposure firefly shots by an unknown artist.

Link -via Colossal

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Cthulhu Guitar Will Drive Your Audience Insane

When that fabled day comes and this guitar arrives on the stage, the world will never be the same. Ikon Customs, a maker of imaginative guitars, created this instrument in the image of the dark lord.

Link -via Technabob | Photo: Marc Bertone

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Man Charged with Making and Then Trying to Spend a Fake $1 Million Bill at Walmart

Was it counterfeiting or a postmodern approach to monetary expansion? Either way, police in Lexington, North Carolina allege that a man approached a register at a local Walmart with $476 worth of household goods. He tried to pay for them with a $1 million bill that he made himself:

Store staff called police.

Fuller was later charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument, both felonies, court records show.

A warrant says of the fake million-dollar bill: "There is no such thing."

The largest bill in circulation is a $100 bill. In 1969, federal officials discontinued the use of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills because of lack of public use.

The largest note ever printed was the $100,000 bill, which featured President Woodrow Wilson. The bills, which were not available to the public, were printed from Dec. 18, 1934, through Jan. 9, 1935, and were used for transactions between Federal Reserve banks.

Link -via Stuff | Photo: Deborah Fitchett

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Dr. McCoy Teapot

"Hey Jim-boy, y'all ever have a real cold, Georgia-style mint julep, huh?" You won't be able to mix one in this teapot, or even Georgia-style sun tea. But you can brew up some hot tea (no, not Earl Grey). Artist Mark Nathan Stafford made this sculpture for the Ossuaries Project. Pour water into the top and tea out of the left ear.

Link -via io9 | Ossuary Project Website

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A Realistic Painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware

In 1851, Emanuel Leutze painted General Washington and his army crossing the freezing Delaware River on the night of December 25, 1776 on their way to successfully attack the Hessian mercenary garrison at Trenton, New Jersey. That painting became one of the great icons of American historical art.

It was not, however, an accurate depiction of the event. So artist Mort Kunstler completed detailed research on the actual crossing and cataloged the errors in Leutze's painting. Then he created the above painting, which he thinks best represents that frozen night's journey across the river.

News Story and Full Size Image -via Marginal Revolution

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Champagne Marshmallows

What are you going to do with the leftover champagne from last night? BraveTart suggests making champagne marshmallows. They can taste toasty or tart, depending on the type of champagne you use and how much vanilla you add. Find the recipe at the link.

Link -via Tasteologie

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Take a Guess about What a Facial Product Called "Snail Cream" Is Made of

Now rub it into your face. It's good for your skin! And tremendously popular in South Korea:

'Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream' contains 70 percent snail extract, and the company says it pays great attention the quality of that 70 percent.

The snails, the same kind that can be found on menus in French restaurants, are fed red ginseng while being raised in Korea in order to ensure quality slime. [...]

The snail cream, made from 21-percent snail extract, is currently the company’s best-selling product.

“I had severe adult acne,” says fan Mina Oh, 26, who began using snail cream last winter when her boss introduced her to the product.

Oh says that the snail cream is so sticky she has to slap it onto her face with a spoon. That doesn’t bother her at all.

“I could feel my skin getting much better,” she says. She plans to continue using snail-based creams.

Link -via Dave Barry | Photo: Flickr user Silver_sh

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The Kissing Dinosaurs of China

For the ultimate experience in romantic getaways, try China's Dinosaurs Fairyland. The city of Erlian is home to rich fossil beds, so you can find an appropriate theme park there. Among its attractions are enormous, concrete models of dinosaurs. This one should really be worked into a dystopian movie someday.

Link -via io9 | Photo: Asia Wheeling

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12 Hangover Cures from Famous Heavy Drinkers

How are you feeling this morning? Oh, yes, you were the life of the party. We shot a video and have already uploaded it onto YouTube. Hopefully it'll go viral. In the meantime, get your head together by trying one of the hangover cures used by famous actors, writers, or celebrities. Here's what Robert Mitchum used:

He made friends with hard-drinking crooner Frank Sinatra, who was indebted to the Night of the Hunter actor for a trusted alcohol antidote, dubbed by Mitchum as Mother’s Milk. The Ramos Gin Fizz is a mix of gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water, and soda water. It seemed to work for Sinatra, who took to calling Mitchum “mother” for years to come and supposedly even mailed him a card every Mother’s Day in thanks. The Ramos Gin Fizz was also said to be a fave of Doors frontman Jim Morrison.

Link -via Hell in a Handbasket | Image: Warner Bros.

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"Would Mahatma Gandhi Have Made a Good Software Engineer?"

And would this be a good job interview question? According to one job seeker, an interviewer at the accounting firm Deloitte thought so. Here are a few others on Glassdoor's list of the twenty-five oddest questions posed to job applicants during the past year:

2. “Just entertain me for five minutes, I’m not going to talk."

11. “Given 20 ‘destructible’ light bulbs (which breaks at certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height that the light bulb breaks?”

15. “How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?”

21. “If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?”

Link -via Technabob | Photo: Flickr user bpsusf

Previously: Last Year's Oddest Job Interview Questions

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On the Ocean

Patrick Bérubé's Incidence is a subtle work of art. At first glance, it's a toy lying on a wooden floor. But upon closer inspection, you can see that he's used the shape of the slats to create the image of a container ship traveling through the sea. This composition is on display at Gallerie SAS in Montreal through January 21.

Exhibit Website and Artist's Website -via Colossal

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Cat Attacks Meowing Birthday Card

(Video Link)

Lulu hates cats that hide inside singing birthday cards. Be sure to watch until the end to see how passionate is her animosity.

-via Johnny Cat

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Military Experiments with Bat Wings

Batman would have been proud. In 1942, California's state defense force experimented with bat-like wingsuits for soldiers. The ultimate goal, as explained by the magazine Mechanix Illustrated, was to create an airborne unit that could be deployed with them.

Link -via io9

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12 Weird Tanks and Armored Vehicles

What is this odd helmet-like object? It's an armored car built by Venezuela. Machinists at Puerto Cabello Naval Arsenal constructed the Tortuga (turtle) over a Ford 6x4 commercial truck chassis and usually armed it with a Vickers 7mm machine gun. They built only twelve because the Tortuga was hard to steer, poorly ventilated, and offered limited visibility to crewmen. This is one of twelve weird tanks and armored vehicles highlighted at Oobject. Check out the rest at the link.

Link -via Gizmodo | Photo: William A. Kirk

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China Turns Old Soviet Aircraft Carrier into a Luxury Hotel

Launched in 1972, the Kiev was once the pride of the Soviet Navy. But in need of cash, Russia and Ukraine sold it and another carrier called the Varyag to China. Although the Varyag is at sea, China has converted the Kiev into a luxury hotel:

This is the Kiev, currently anchored in the Chinese port of Tianjin. Once she was the flagship of the mighty Soviet navy’s Pacific fleet. Now she’s available for business retreats, intimate getaways or simple relaxation.

That’s because the Chinese have bought the aircraft carrier and transformed her into a floating luxury hotel.

The Kiev will stay permanently docked. Much as a Soviet-era sailor might resent the indignity, Kiev won’t go back out to sea. She’ll entertain guests and clients at anchor, a bizarre museum to a different country’s naval power.

View a slideshow of the hotel's fancy interiors at the link.

Slideshow and News Story -via DVICE | Photo: Xinhua

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The Philosoraptor Song is Deeply Profound

(Video Link)

I had never thought of it before, but yes: if tomatoes are vegetables, then ketchup is a smoothie. Thank you, Philosoraptor, for expanding my mind. Here's a video from Bucky Studios that collects his wisdom and presents it as a soft pop song.

-via Geekosystem

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Profile for John Farrier

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