John Farrier's Blog Posts

Life-Size Barbie Dream House



Last year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the debut of Barbie, Mattel had a house redecorated to resemble the doll's Malibu Dream House:

The 3,500 square foot house in Malibu was designed by “Happy Chic” interior designer Jonathan Adler and features a chandelier made of Barbie hair, a closet filled with thousands of shoes and a sunburst mirror made from 65 Barbie dolls.


Link via Flavorwire | Photo: Tom Andrews

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Pencil Shoes



Lauren Milroy, a mechanical engineer with a background in the aerospace industry, recently completed a master's program in design. She made these shoes out of colored pencils.

Link via Dude Craft | Artist's Website

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It's Unclear Whether or Not this Boba Fett Glass Tube Helmet Is a Functional Waterpipe



Depending on who you talk to, this sculpture can or can't be used as a hookah. What is more certain is that it was made by glass artist Kevin Murray of Milwaukie, Oregon.

Link via Geekologie

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Alien and Other Odd Chess Sets



Max Eddy of Geekosystem rounded up pictures and information about unusual and macabre chess sets, such as the above set inspired by the Alien movie franchise. Facehuggers make appropriate pawns.

You know what would be good to see? A chess set inspired by the chess episode of Lexx.

Link | Photo: Contaminated

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Cinderella Reading a Story to R2D2 with Tasha Yar in the Background



Jen of Epbot attended the Miami Comic-Con and took this picture of a little girl in a Cinderella costume reading to R2D2, who chirped and beeped in response. It was only after she started processing the pictures that Jen noticed that Denise Crosby, the actress who played Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was in the background of the shot.

Link via Boing Boing

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Severed Finger Flash Drive



Do you come across as insufficiently creepy to your friends and coworkers? Then start transporting your data with this severed finger flash drive by Etsy seller jasonscreations.

Link via Nerdcore

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Crocheted Green Eggs and Ham



Since it is Dr. Seuss' 107th birthday, there's no better time to dig into the green eggs and ham. These, however, are not edible, as they are a crocheted sculpture. Craftster user The Izz writes:

I will crochet them in a box.
I will crochet them with a fox.
I will crochet them in a house.
I will crochet them with a mouse.
I will crochet them here or there.
I do like them anywhere.
I will crochet green eggs and ham.
For I do love that Seussy man.


Link via Make

Previously: Shakespearean Green Eggs and Ham

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Chicken Sculpture Made out of Eggshells



Kyle Bean made a sculpture of a chicken out of eggshells. It's called "Which Came First?" Although, at first, I thought that this was a digital image, the last photo in the set at the link shows Bean assembling the sculpture.

Link via Dude Craft

Previously by Kyle Bean: Nesting Cell Phones

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Cyborg Lassie



I don't know what this is. There are captions written in the Cyrillic alphabet. But it's very clear that this would have been the basis of the greatest Lassie series ever.

via Super Punch | Previously: Cat Lassie is Unconcerned with Your Suffering

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Goodnight Dune



A couple of months ago, cartoonist Caldwell Tanner composed a few covers for classic children's picture books as though they were inspired by science fiction. Julia Yu was either inspired by one such cover or arrived at the idea on her own, but has, at any rate, composed a full-length presentation of Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon set in the Dune universe.

Link via blastr

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Psychologists: People with Full Bladders Make Wiser Decisions

Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands found a positive correlation between the need to pee and impulse control:

Their findings contradict previous research which found people who are forced to “restrain themselves” put more pressure on their brain and found it difficult exerting self-control.

Dr Mirjam Tuk, who led the study, said that the brain’s “control signals” were not task specific but result in an "unintentional increase" in control over other tasks.

"People are more able to control their impulses for short term pleasures and choose more often an option which is more beneficial in the long run,” she said.

"The brain area sending this signal, is activated not only for bladder control, but for all sorts of control.


The psychologists tested their hypothesis by asking two groups of people -- one consisting of people who had just drank a large amount of water and one that hadn't -- to make decisions about the future:

They were asked to make eight choices ranging from small, and immediate, rewards to larger, but delayed, ones including choosing to receive either $16 (£10) tomorrow or $30 (£18) in 35 days.

They concluded that people with full bladders were better at holding out for the larger rewards later.


Link | Photo by Flickr user mauitimeweekly used under Creative Commons license

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Movies Compressed into Barcodes



Well, strictly speaking this isn't actually a barcode. But Movie Barcode, a Tumblr blog, compresses every frame from a movie into a single image. Pictured above is one example -- The Wizard of Oz. If you think about the dominant colors throughout the movie, it's actually possible to follow the story (to an extent) through the image.

Link via Geekosystem

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Making Murals Through Small Explosions


(Video Link)


I'm not sure how he does it, but a Portuguese artist named Alexandre Farto carves murals into walls by setting off small explosions. The above music video for the band Orelha Negra shows the process.

Gallery via Geekologie

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Elevator Knife Ad



This clever ad by the Grey Group in Japan promotes a brand of knives. As the elevator doors open, a knife appears to slice through a lobster.

Link via Super Punch | Agency Website | Photo: Akihiro Ito

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Hipster Science Hashtag on Twitter



One of the funniest memes going around Twitter today is the #hipsterscience hashtag. What are the cool laboratory drones doing lately? Something you'll only discover in a few months.

Post Link and Twitter Link via Nerdcore

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Han Solo Frozen in Carbonite Crocheted Throw Pillow



Of course! The basic shape of the block of carbonite lends itself very well to a throw pillow. This one measures 16 by 9 inches.

Link via Technabob | Photo: Xanadoodle

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Space Shuttle Docking with Space Station as Seen from Earth



Sure, we've all seen pictures of a space shuttle docking. But this one was taken from Earth using a fairly ordinary telescope guided by hand:

This remarkable picture was taken by Rob Bullen on Saturday February 26 from the UK, using an 8.5? telescope. I’ll note that’s relatively small as telescopes go! But the ISS is now over 100 meters long, and if it’s directly overhead (that is, the closest it can be to an observer on the ground) it appears large enough to easily look elongated in binoculars — in fact, it would be big enough to look elongated to someone with good eyesight and no aid at all*! Still, images like this are difficult to obtain even with a carefully guided telescope equipped with a video camera.

Oh — did I mention that Rob hand-guided his telescope for this shot?


Link via Popular Science

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The Most Wildly Inaccurate Prediction about the Internet, c. 1993


(Video Link)


In 1993, an early Internet user named John Allen explained that the Internet was and would continue to be a place of remarkable civility and courtesy. Warning: text displayed during the video is NSFW.

I began using the Internet in 1995, so I can only assume that this genteel atmosphere that Allen spoke of collapsed in just two years.

via Urlesque

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This Parasol is a Sundial



Japanese designer Kota Nezu made a parasol that is a functional sundial. There's a compass built into the handle to that you can point it in the right direction and get a reading on the time.

Link via OhGizmo!

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Portrait of Muhammad Ali Made out of Punching Bags



Michael Kalish created this elaborate sculpture that, when viewed from the right angle, looks like Muhammad Ali:

[...]artist Michael Kalish went big, using 1,300 punching bags, 6.5 miles of stainless steel cable, and 2,500 pounds of aluminum pipe to construct a 22-foot-high installation that took three years to complete.

The idea for the project came to Kalish as he was falling asleep one night in 2008: an array of custom-made, teardrop-shaped speed bags suspended in midair that, from just one vantage point, align themselves like pixels into an image of Ali’s face.


It's not actually quite done yet. Ali himself will hang the final bag at the unveiling.

Link | Photo: Wired

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Who Will Be Famous in 10,000 Years?

Tyler Cowen, an economist and the blogger behind Marginal Revolution, was asked by a reader:

Who do you think will still be famous in 10,000 years? People from history or now. Shakespeare? Socrates? Hawking?


He answered (in part):

In that case, I'll go with the major religious leaders (Jesus, Buddha, etc.), Einstein, Turing, Watson and Crick, Hitler, the major classical music composers, Adam Smith, and Neil Armstrong.[...]

My thinking is this. The major religions last for a long time and leave a real mark on history. Path-dependence is critical in that area.

Otherwise, an individual, to stay famous, will have to securely symbolize an entire area, and an area "with legs" at that. The theory of relativity still will be true and it may well become more important. The computer and DNA will not be irrelevant. Hitler will remain a stand-in symbol for pure evil; if he is topped we may not have a future at all. Beethoven and Mozart still will be splendid, but Shakespeare and other wordsmiths will require translation and thus will fade somewhat. The propensity to truck and barter will remain and Smith will keep his role as the symbol of economics.


Who do you think will be famous in 10,000 years?

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

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Retelling of Lord of the Rings Imagines Mordor as Victim

In Salon, Laura Miller writes about a novel by Yisroel Markov which tells the LoTR story from Mordor's point of view. Here's a summary of The Last Ringbearer:

In Yeskov's retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science "destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!" He's in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become "masters of the world," and turn Middle-earth into a "bad copy" of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron's citadel, is, by contrast, described as "that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic."


Link via Ace of Spades HQ | Image: New Line Cinema

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Spent Cartridge Casing Pan Flute



Instructables user rabidiga made this pan flute. It was his entry in a contest to build a post-apocalyptic musical instrument for under $30. He didn't spent a penny, but only used materials that he already owned:

Super easy to make. Took me about an hour even though I am clumsy as hell when it comes to working with wire. Depending on your choice of supplies it could have easily been finished in half the time. And while they don't sound perfect I was able to belt out a killer 'Ode to Joy' even if it was a bit out of tune.


Link via Everyday, No Days Off | Previously: Tampon Pan Flute

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Bar Has Toilet That Looks Like a TARDIS



The Way Station is a steampunk-themed bar that just opened in Brooklyn. It features a toilet room shaped like a TARDIS. Although it may look small, the owners assure customers that it's bigger on the inside.

Link via io9 | Bar Website | Photo: Kimberly Fenwick

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Burglar Has Brilliant Idea: Post Photos of Himself on Victim's Facebook Page

Rodney Knight plead guilty to second degree burglary this past week in Washington, D.C. He was caught because he posted pictures of himself with his loot on his victim's Facebook wall:

Knight broke in to the Northwest home of Washington Post writer Marc Fisher in December, police said. He helped himself to a number of items, including two laptop computers, a new winter coat and about $400 in cash.

Before leaving the scene of the crime, he put on the winter coat and posed with the cash for a photo he took of himself. He then posted his “loot” photo on Fisher’s son’s Facebook page, the writer said.


Link via Gizmodo | Photo: MSNBC

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Sledding Winch



As Paul Overton puts it grandly "For centuries, man has been looking for a way to go sledding without all the pesky exercise, and Josh has found it!" Indeed he has. Josh of Cycle Karts rigged a winch to a 8 hp go kart engine so that people could sled down be hauled back without any strain:

The final winch set up involves an 2100 foot long rope that is spliced and will run all day long in a continual 1050 foot loop. The rope alone weighs 70+ pounds and the winch without the rope is close to 200 pounds.

The three different shafts and accompanying gears result in a final drive ratio of 30:1-4.5:1 so it is capable of pulling three adults up a 30 degree incline at comfortable slow speeds or a rather bumpy high speed.[...]

Note the mountain bike grip shift toward the top of the picture, which is our five speed throttle control. Also barely visible in this picture are the three pulleys that keep the line from jumping as the line makes 4 passes around the spool before heading back down the hill.


There's a video of the winch in action at the link.

Link via DudeCraft

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Turtles Use Earth's Magnetic Fields as a Navigational System

Scientists Nathan Putman and Ken Lohmann have determined that turtles can navigate across entire oceans by using the earth's magnetic fields to determine their longitude and latitude. To test this hypothesis, they used a special water tank that permitted them to alter the magnetic fields inside. They then placed the turtles in the tank to see how they would respond to simulations of different locations:

Using his coil-surrounded tank, Lohmann could mimic the magnetic field at different parts of the Earth’s surface. If he simulated the field at the northern edge of the gyre, the hatchlings swam southwards. If he simulated the field at the gyre’s southern edge, the turtles swam west-northwest. These experiments showed that the turtles can use their magnetic sense to work out their latitude – their position on a north-south axis. Now, Putman has shown that they can also determine their longitude – their position on an east-west axis.

He tweaked his magnetic tanks to simulate the fields in two positions with the same latitude at opposite ends of the Atlantic. If the field simulated the west Atlantic near Puerto Rico, the turtles swam northeast. If the field matched that on the east Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands, the turtles swam southwest. In the wild, both headings would keep them within the safe, warm embrace of the North Atlantic gyre.


Link via Marginal Revolution | Photo by Flickr user coda used under Creative Commons license

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Pi Bowl



This design by Etsy seller West Art and Glass is simple but elegant. It's a glass bowl presenting pi to the first 1,498 decimal places in a spiral pattern. They're made to order in any color.

Link via Geek Crafts

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Bench Presses Advertisement into Bare Thighs



The ad agency DDB Auckland altered benches to press an advertisement for Superette, a clothing chain in New Zealand, into the bare legs of people who sit on them. They read "Short shorts on sale Superette".

Link via The Presurfer | Photos: Bed Ads on TV

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The Odd History of the Word "OK"

Allan Metcalf has recently written a book about the history of the word "okay" (in its various spellings). He has summarized his findings in an article for the BBC. This word, Metcalf argues, is phonetically structured in such a way that gave it the ability to easily transcend linguistic boundaries:

So both in speech and in writing OK stands out clearly, easily distinguished from other words, and yet it uses simple sounds that are familiar to a multitude of languages.

Almost every language has an O vowel, a K consonant, and an A vowel. So OK is a very distinctive combination of very familiar elements. And that's one reason it's so successful. OK stands apart.

Ordinarily a word so odd, so distinctive from others, wouldn't be allowed in a language to begin with. As a general rule, a language allows new words only when they resemble familiar ones.


Metcalf's article briefly traces the development of the word, but also states his claim of its true origin:

On 23 March 1839, OK was introduced to the world on the second page of the Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as "o.k. (all correct)".


Link via First Things | Photo by Flickr user A National Acrobat used under Creative Commons license

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Profile for John Farrier

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