John Farrier's Blog Posts

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Is There a Scientific Explanation for Justin Bieber?

For more than a century, social scientists have attempted to create a model that will accurately predict what images, songs, or memes will become popular. Now Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University, thinks that certain fMRI signatures in the brains of teenagers are reliable indicators of future popularity:

The divination is performed with the help of a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, or fMRI, scanning the brains of juveniles while they listen to demo records. Emory University plumped the findings with the bold headline, "Teen brain data predicts pop song success."

If true, this would be the equivalent of having tomorrow's stock pages today. Helpful, that. Determine what tickles the pleasure points of the adolescent id and you ought to be able to plot more efficiently how to separate teens from their money.

Link -via Althouse | Photo by Flickr user jake.auzzie used under Creative Commons license

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Featured Designs from the NeatoShop:

A Sign Made from 5,000 Rocker Switches

This would be so much fun to play with! Valentin Ruhry made this huge sign for the Austrian Cultural Forum of New York. It will be on display there through September 5.

Link and Forum Website -via Colossal | Photos: Valentin Ruhry

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The Powerpuff Girls Cosplay

Here's a clever cosplay by a man named Alex showing Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup with their father/creator Professor Utonium. It's perfect! Link -via Look at this Frakking Geekster

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Millennium Falcon Wedding Cake Includes Working Lights

It's amazing how far we've come in cake design. How much longer will we have to wait before we have a wedding cake that can actually fly under its own power?

Link via blastr | Cake by The Butter End Cakery

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50 UV Filters Mounted on a Camera

Kenny at was cleaning a bunch of UV filters and, for idle amusement, decided to mount them on a camera. Pictured above is a stack of 50. Then he and his co-worker Roger went out and took pictures. Below is one of them, paired with a shot without any filters. Link -via Technabob

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Richard Dreyfuss Performs a Dramatic Reading of the iTunes User Agreement

It is very important to read those long, tedious license agreements -- especially from Apple. But that doesn't have to be a boring activity. For a podcast, Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss read the iTunes user agreement in several different, dramatic voices. You can listen to excerpts at the link. My favorite is 'irritable German professor'.

Link -via Lowering the Bar | Photo by Flickr user Llima used under Creative Commons license

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Don't worry! It's a whale shark. They're filter feeders and are known for non-aggressive behavior toward human divers. Mauricio Handler captured this image off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where these sharks gather during the summer.

Link -via Super Punch | Photo: Mauricio Handler, National Geographic

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Pinstriping Done by Hand

(Video Link)

Royal Enfield is an Indian manufacturer of classic British-style motorcycles. Much of the work is done by hand, including painting the iconic pinstripes and logo on the gas tank. This amazing video shows one plant worker -- or artist, I should say -- adding perfectly formed pinstripes completely freehand.

-via Boing Boing | Jay Leno Explores Royal Enfield

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Dear Photograph

Dear Photograph is a blog that invites readers to submit photos of photos positioned over reality. Or, as the site's description puts it, "take a picture of a picture from the past in the present." Link -via Blame It on the Voices | Photo: Tom Freeland

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Bug Navigates Internet on a Touchscreen

(Video Link)

Calquon's computer has a very sensitive touchscreen interface. Even a fly can navigate reddit with it. But I didn't see him upvote anything. Come on, bug, contribute!

Link via Geekosystem

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The M-Team

As usual, I can't top Jeremy Barker's introduction:

In 1972, a crack vaudeville unit was sent to off Broadway by a theatre court for a joke they didn't tell. These Muppets promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the Tony Awards they survive as Muppets of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The M-Team.

This cartoon was made by Amy Mebberson. You can see more works by her at the link. Link -via Popped Culture

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That's a Car Shoved Inside a Van

According to Google Translate's rendering of a German-language news story, police stopped a van in northern Germany when they noticed that the rear doors weren't fully closed. There was a good reason why they weren't: the entire rear of the Sprinter van was filled with a Mazda. Don't worry! Mattresses and bedding covered the car to prevent it from getting any scratches.

Link (Google Translate) via Jalopnik | Photo: police

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Ben Wilson's Chewing Gum Art

Ben Wilson finds wads of chewing gum discarded into the streets and sidewalks of London and paints them:

Mr. Wilson, 47, one of Britain’s best-known outsider artists, has for the last six years or so immersed himself in a peculiar passion all his own: he paints tiny pictures on flattened blobs of discarded chewing gum on the sidewalks of London. So familiar is he here, painting in any kind of weather, that he has become something of a local celebrity and mascot.

Wilson has become especially popular with the people of Muswell Hill, where he lives and has done most of his work:

In Muswell Hill, where he lives and which has his largest collection of chewing gum art, his pictures have become a chronicle of the neighborhood, a representation of its residents’ whimsies, sorrows and passions. Among the pictures dotted outside the post office, for example, are an R.I.P. painting for a postman and a picture of a tiger in honor of a postal worker who is from Sri Lanka.

To mark the closing of a Woolworth’s store a couple of years ago, Mr. Wilson crowded every employee’s name onto a piece of gum, along with a good-luck message from the managers. He painted another in which the employees thanked their customers. The two pictures are still there, even though the store is gone.

Link -via Super Punch | Photo by Flickr user salimfadhley used under Creative Commons license

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Would You Like to Lick a Popsicle Shaped Like David Hasselhoff?

I guess that's a dumb question. Of course you would! So, anticipating this widespread desire, Del Monte created a Hasselhoff-shaped popsicle for National Ice Cream Month. It's called the Hoffsicle.

Truly, we live in age of wonders. Link -via Vodkapundit | Photo: Del Monte

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Conan O'Brien Delivered a Commencement Address

And it was quite good! Commencement addresses tend to range from tedious to unbearable, but O'Brien's speech before the graduates of Dartmouth College was both funny and practical:

Eleven years ago I gave an address to a graduating class at Harvard. I have not spoken at a graduation since because I thought I had nothing left to say. But then 2010 came. And now I'm here, three thousand miles from my home, because I learned a hard but profound lesson last year and I'd like to share it with you. In 2000, I told graduates "Don't be afraid to fail." Well now I'm here to tell you that, though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it. Nietzsche famously said "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you. Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting. What Nietzsche should have said is "Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning."

Video Link and Transcript -via Ace of Spades HQ

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A Study of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Astérix Comics

The long-running French comic series Astérix features a lot of violence. Five medical researchers in Germany figured that there might be something valuable to learn from this data set, and so decided to conduct a formal study of the comic's brain injuries. Here's the abstract:

The goal of the present study was to analyze the epidemiology and specific risk factors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the Asterix illustrated comic books. Among the illustrated literature, TBI is a predominating injury pattern.

A retrospective analysis of TBI in all 34 Asterix comic books was performed by examining the initial neurological status and signs of TBI. Clinical data were correlated to information regarding the trauma mechanism, the sociocultural background of victims and offenders, and the circumstances of the traumata, to identify specific risk factors.

Seven hundred and four TBIs were identified. The majority of persons involved were adult and male. The major cause of trauma was assault (98.8%). Traumata were classified to be severe in over 50% (GCS 3-8). Different neurological deficits and signs of basal skull fractures were identified. Although over half of head-injury victims had a severe initial impairment of consciousness, no case of death or permanent neurological deficit was found. The largest group of head-injured characters was constituted by Romans (63.9%), while Gauls caused nearly 90% of the TBIs. A helmet had been worn by 70.5% of victims but had been lost in the vast majority of cases (87.7%). In 83% of cases, TBIs were caused under the influence of a doping agent called "the magic potion".

Although over half of patients had an initially severe impairment of consciousness after TBI, no permanent deficit could be found. Roman nationality, hypoglossal paresis, lost helmet, and ingestion of the magic potion were significantly correlated with severe initial impairment of consciousness (p???0.05).

Link via Nerdcore | Image: René Goscinny

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Ray Villafane's Carved Pumpkins

Ray Villafane's funny and spooky carved pumpkins are wondrous sights to behold. Make interviewed him about his background and what's involved in this craft. When asked about the tools that he uses, Villafane wrote:

99% of the carvings I do are done with various-sized ribbon loop tools. These are standard tools for clay potters and sculptors. The great thing about these tools is that they are not sharp at all, keeping it safe for kids. I use a paring knife to sharpen up the details in the end, but you would be surprised how far you can get without ever using a knife!

Link -via Make | Villafane's Kickstarter Page

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Möbius Ship

Tim Hawkinson made this model sailing ship that's twisted like a möbius strip:

Echoing the working methods of ship-in-a-bottle hobbyists, Hawkinson created a painstakingly detailed model ship that twists in upon itself, presenting the viewer with a thought-provoking visual conundrum. The title is a witty play on Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, which famously relates the tale of a ship captain’s all-consuming obsession with an elusive white whale. The ambitious and imaginative structure of Hawkinson’s sculpture offers an uncanny visual metaphor for Melville’s epic tale, which is often considered the ultimate American novel.

Link -via Kottke | Photo: Indianapolis Museum of Art

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The Mysterious Oreo Logo

Nabisco first unveiled the Oreo in 1912, then marked with a distinctive logo on the outer cookie shingles. In changed in 1924, and then acquired its current form in 1954. Oreo enthusiasts have studied the logos extensively, searching for their meanings:

The circle topped with a two-bar cross in which the word “OREO” resides is a variant of the Nabisco logo, and is either “an early European symbol for quality” (according to Nabisco’s promotional materials) or a Cross of Lorraine, as carried by the Knights Templar into the Crusades. Continuing the Da Vinci Code-theme, the Oreo’s geometric pattern of a dot with four triangles radiating outward is either a schematic drawing of a four-leaf clover or — cue the cliffhanger music from Jaws — the cross pattée, also associated with the Knights Templar, as well as with the German military and today’s Freemasons.

Offer your own conspiracy theories in the comments.

Link -via The Mary Sue | Photo by Flickr user pumpkinsoupsauce used under Creative Commons license

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Functional Model Airship

The USS Macon was a military airship operated by the United States from 1933-1935. Retired computer engineer Jack Clemens spent two and a half years building a 20-foot replica that flies for 45 minutes at a time:

The Macon was an airship, not a blimp, meaning it had a rigid hull. A backbone made from 12 circular frames connected with strips of wood called longerons gave the 785-foot-long craft its form. Clemens wanted to mimic the structure in his model, so he built a jig to ensure that the frames--made from thousands of balsa-wood sticks--were precisely the right size. Although the Macon’s skin was a mix of cotton muslin and metal-colored sealant, Clemens’s model used Mylar because it was lightweight, tough and the right color.

Clemens calculated that to get his craft to fly, he would need a total of eight small model-airplane propellers anchored to the sides of the frame. “It takes very little propulsive force to move an airship,” he explains. The propellers are powered by a single 2.5-ounce lithium-polymer battery that sits in the nose of the craft and helps balance the weight of pulleys and servomotors in the tail.

The airship takes up a lot of room in Clemens' home, so he hopes to donate it to a museum. Link | Photo: Cody Pickens

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Sauron-y Night

I'm having trouble tracking down the artist responsible for this piece, so if you know, let me know in the comments. Well, other Van Gogh, obviously. I'm assuming that this is not an alternate Starry Night that he painted himself. -via blastr

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Newscaster Tries to Tell the Dalai Lama a Dalai Lama Joke

(Video Link)

Karl Stefanovic, an Australian newscaster, got a chance to sit down and talk with the Dalai Lama. Naturally, he took the opportunity to tell the Dalai Lama a Buddhism joke. At least, Buddhism as it is popularly understood in the West -- your own theological mileage may vary. Watch and see how well it went over.

via reddit

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The Best Works of The Venture Bros. Cosplay

Have you seen The Venture Bros.? It's a great show, and in my opinion, the funniest currently in production. Gamma Squad has a roundup of some of the best cosplay by fans. Here we see three young ladies dressed up as Hank Venture, Dean Venture, and Sgt. Hatred. The expression on Dean's face is perfect.

Link -via The Mary Sue | Photo: The Tall Tales of Little Brian Danger

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LEGO-Making Machine Made out of LEGO

The Danes started making LEGO bricks in 1949 using a hand-cranked molding machine. This LEGO set permits you to make a model of that machine. It is not yet a fully functional model, but I'm sure some LEGO enthusiasts are working on remedying that problem. Then we would have self-replicating LEGO machines, which would be awesome unless they gained sentience. Link -via Nerdcore | Photo: Eurobicks user Vassal

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Origami Flying Mantis

I can't find out much information about Nguyen Hung Cuong, but his origami work is simply amazing. He's got a whole series of lovely insect pieces at the link. Link -via Colossal

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Spaceflights in Water

Owen Silverwood launches model NASA spacecraft in tanks of water to recreate the effect of billowing clouds of rocket exhaust. The space shuttle shot at the link is particularly glorious. Link -via Fubiz (Google Translate)

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Man Hangs from Hot Air Balloon Suspended Only by His Body Piercings

(Video Link)

Zane Whitmore of Seattle was pierced through the flesh on his shoulder blades four times, and then hung from these piercings onto a hot air balloon. He floated around California's Long Valley Caldera for seventy-five minutes, suspended ten thousand feet over the ground:

The stunt was part of a Portland film production company's filming of a feature-length documentary called Feet Off the Ground. Planning for the hot air balloon ride took about two years.

"This balloon suspension is really the culmination of several years of immersing ourselves in the body modification and suspension communities," Matt Morgan, co-founder of film production company Precarious Egg and one of the producers of the film, said in a press release describing the project.

Link -via Boing Boing

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Uterus Transplant Planned

A couple of years ago, I mentioned that researchers were making headway toward transplanting a human uterus. Now doctors in Sweden have scheduled an experimental transplant between 56-year old Eva Ottosson and her 25-year old daughter Sara. The daughter has Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) syndrome and was consequently born without a uterus. If the procedure is successful, the uterus that she herself lived in for nine months will be implanted inside her own body. It will be a challenging operation:

Dr Mats Brannstrom, who is leading the medical team, said a womb transplant remained one of the most complex operations known to medical science.

He said: “Technically it is lot more difficult than transplanting a kidney, liver or heart. The difficulty with it is avoiding haemorrhage and making sure you have long enough blood vessels to connect the womb.

“You are also working deep down in the pelvis area and it is like working in a funnel. It is not like working with a kidney, which is really accessible.”

Link -via Gizmodo | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user tofslie used under Creative Commons license

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$230,000 Personal Guard Dogs

At that price, they're not just called "guard dogs" but "executive protection dogs". Harrison Prather owns a South Carolina-based company that specializes in training elite protection dogs for private individuals. Julia, a German Shepherd that cost $230,000, helps protect the family of John Johnson:

Mr. Johnson said he got his first protection dog after receiving personal threats while he was running the Northland Group, a debt-collection company in Minnesota that he founded and eventually sold three years ago. Now he has six protection dogs, all German shepherds, and normally takes a couple in his car whenever he goes out.

“It’s for both security and companionship,” he said as Julia nuzzled his leg, looking like a gentle enough companion. But when an intruder emerged near the tennis court of his estate, all it took was one command, “Packen!” (the bite command from the German word for “seize”), to send Julia racing across the lawn.

She sunk her teeth into the intruder’s arm, which was encased in padding for a demonstration, and hung on even as he lifted her off the ground in a vain attempt to shake free of her. She let go only upon being commanded and then stood guard over her new prisoner, barking and threatening to bite again whenever he made a move to escape, which he wisely did not try.

Link -via Glenn Reynolds | Photo: Allen Brisson-Smith for The New York Times

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Solar-Powered Bikini

Andrew Schneider's invention is the glorious future of swimwear that will replace the obsolete and dangerous coal-burning bikinis of today:

The suit is a standard medium-sized bikini swimsuit retrofitted with 1" x 4" photovoltaic film strips sewn together in series with conductive thread. The cells terminate in a 5 volt regulator into a female USB connection

Question: wouldn't it make more sense to make a one piece swimsuit? You know -- for more electricity.

Link and Project Website -via Technabob | Photo: Ecouterre

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Profile for John Farrier

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