John Farrier's Blog Posts

Conversation Skills

(Fowl Language Comics/Brian Gordon)

Pretending to be interested in what other people have to say is an important life skill. Teach your kids by example, as they are trying to teach you. If successful, then we all learn how to fake sincerity as adults.

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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Scientists Think Cockroach Milk Could Be the Superfood of the Future

(Photo: Geoff L)

Got milk? That's good! It'll keep you strong and healthy. But you probably got it from a cow or a goat. For a new treat, try cockroach milk.

Cockroaches aren't mammals, so what they secrete isn't, technically speaking, milk. But that's what scientists are calling diploptera punctate, which is a protein crystal that roaches feed their live young. Researchers say that it's good for humans to eat. Science Alert reports:

"The crystals are like a complete food - they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids," said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the team, in an interview with the Times of India.

Not only is the milk a dense source of calories and nutrients, it’s also time released. As the protein in the milk is digested, the crystal releases more protein at an equivalent rate to continue the digestion.

"It’s time-released food," said Subramanian Ramaswamy, who led the project. "if you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released and food that is complete. This is it."

Milking individual cockroaches is a chore, though. So Banerjee's research team is working on a way to artificially duplicate the roach milk production process in a laboratory setting. Sadly, it will be a while before you see roach milk on grocery store shelves.

-via Joe Carter

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Man Leads Police on High Speed Chase Because He Was Bored

(Photo: Scott Davidson)

The suspect had no prior criminal convictions or outstanding arrest warrants. Nonetheless, police say that he drove right through a red light in Thuston County, Washington on Saturday. A sheriff's deputy tried to pull him over, but he wouldn't respond.

Police chased the man in his car through two counties for over an hour. Eventually, he crashed his car. That's when police arrested him. They asked the man why he ran. Well, it was something to do on a slow day. The News Tribune reports:

“He said he was just bored,” Odegaard said. “It looks like to us right now … he instigated this pursuit because he was bored and just wanted to do it.”

-via AP

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The Shortest Weather Forecast Ever

(Video Link)

Perhaps, as Scott Beale at Laughing Squid suggests, it's a blooper. But I'm skeptical. The weatherman is just getting to the point. It's not like he's getting paid by the word. If only other people communicated as succinctly as Keith Monahan of KARK-TV news in Arkansas does!

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10 Historic Shot Towers around the World

(Photo: Damien Ramon Naidoo)

Once upon a time, to make lead round shot, nations and businesses would build shot towers. These are industrial sites sometimes hundreds of feet tall. Workers would drip molten lead from the top. These droplets would form spheres during their descent, then cool in that form when hitting a pool of water at the bottom. This technique permitted the mass production of adequately well-made ammunition.

Some of these shot towers still exist, such as Taroona Shot Tower, which is pictured above. The iron merchant Joseph Moir built it in Tasmania in 1870. The 150-foot tall tower is no longer active, but is well preserved and open to the public.

The beautiful Taroona Shot Tower is 1 of 10 well-preserved shot towers that still exist around the world. You can see others at Atlas Obscura.

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The Bourbon Burger

(Photo: Chicken & Sons)

Chicken & Sons, a restaurant in Chatsworth, New South Wales, Australia, now offers the perfect breakfast burger. Their $22 Bourbon Burger has bourbon-glazed bacon, bourbon-based barbecue sauce, and a whole shot of bourbon in a cup cut into the bun. It comes with beer-battered fries that have been glazed with bourbon. I suspect that you could also order it with bourbon on the side, too.

-via That's Nerdalicious!

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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The Fresh Tank Engine of Sodor

(Video Link)

YouTube user marioboy22601 remixed Will Smith's famous introduction to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with the theme music of Thomas  and Friends. It totally works! Thomas definitely should leave the mean tracks of Philly for a safer environment on Sodor.

I found this video at Boing Boing, which has links to other Thomas and Friends re-mixes, including the music of Biggie Smalls, Cypress Hill, and AC/DC.

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Soccer Balls on Demand for Kids in Brazil

The campaign by Brazilian cookie company Biscoitos Zezé is called "Be More Child." It places soccer balls in locked bins in the streets of Brazilian cities. Local kids have keys to the bins, so they can play soccer whenever they want. You can see more photos of the bins at Pop-Up City.

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Singapore Street Food Makes Culinary History by Earning Michelin Stars

(Photo: Edgar Su/Reuters)

To earn a star in the Michelin travel guide is a great victory for a restaurant. Since 1931, the company has secretly sampled and rated the finest restaurants in the world. Getting even just one is a mark of fame. 3 gives the establishment a reputation for the highest excellence.

And now, for the first time in its history, Michelin has awarded stars to street food stalls. A pair of stalls in Singapore has each earned a star. Reuters reports:

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle made dining history on Thursday when they became the first street food stalls in the world to be awarded a star by Michelin as French critics revealed a Singapore guide of 29 establishments.

Singapore is the first Southeast Asian country and the fourth in Asia to be rated by the Michelin Guide. It has more than 100 open-air "hawker" centers and 6,000 stalls selling popular multi-ethnic meals.

-via Nothing to Do with Aborath

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Dog Fetches Brother

(Video Link)

When Derick Duffner wants the presence of his dog Jack, he doesn't call for him. He asks his other dog, Luke, to fetch him.

They could walk each other like this.

-via Blame It on the Voices

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

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The Smithsonian Is Hiring a Beer Historian

(Photo: @joefoodie)

And you should apply! It requires not just an appreciation for beer, but a rich understanding of its roles and development in American history. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC wants a beer scholar on staff to explore and explain beer in American life. The Washington City Paper quotes curator Paula Johnson:

"We have collected food history for many years, so when we were doing the research for the exhibition, which is all about big changes in the post WW II era in how and what we eat, one thing we were curious about is the craft beer movement," Johnson says. "We were looking at wine, coffee, cheese, artisanal bread, and farmers markets. Well, this movement with small-scale, local regional beer is part of the ethos."

You can read the official job posting here.

-via Stephen Green

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Guardians of the Galaxy Characters Will Appear on NASA Mission Patch

(Image: CASIS/Marvel Custom Solutions)

Yes, that's Groot and Rocket Raccoon in this official NASA patch. It will represent all of the science missions of the US National Laboratory on board the International Space Station during 2016. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) worked with Marvel artist Juan Doe to develop the design. reports:

"A major mission for us here at CASIS is to find unique and innovative ways to bring notoriety to the International Space Station National Laboratory and the research that is being conducted," stated Ken Shields, CASIS's operations and educational opportunities director. "There are very few brands in the world who have as large an impact as Marvel and we are thrilled to partner with them on this project."

-via Stephen Green

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Golf Cart Jetpack

(Video Link)

Why drive around obstacles when you can fly over them? Golf master Bubba Watson hopes that jetpacks will replace old fashioned 4-wheeled golf carts. Recently, he learned how to fly at Martin P12 jetpack and used it to fly from hole to hole on a golf course. With a 3,000-foot high ceiling and a maximum speed of 46 MPH, he was able to move quickly.

Aside from being a quick form of transportation, Watson says that it offers golfers a tactical advantage over their competitors. They can see the lay of a course from high above, making the game a more 3-dimensional experience. 

-via Telegraph

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The Loop is a churro bakery in Westminster, California. It's noted for its long, looped churros, often covered with toppings, such as Fruity Pebbles and chocolate, and served with ice cream.

To promote the Poké Stop at their restaurant, team member Ngoc made this churro concoction shaped like Pikachu.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Why Do Pigeons Poop on Cars?

(They Can Talk/Jimmy Craig)

As G.K. Chesterton put it:

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

Your ancestors pooped on cars for generations for a reason. If you can explain why they thought that and why it is no longer necessary or appropriate, then you may stop. But until then, keep pooping on cars.

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Baby Horse Demands Butt Scratches

(Video Link)

This little filly knows what's good: butt scratches. And if you don't deliver them, she'll take them from you. She's got attitude.

-via Tastefully Offensive

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

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Man Lassos Bear with Head Stuck in Cheese Puffs Container

(Photo: Sharill Hawkins/AP)

We've all been there at some point in our lives. A whole bucket of cheese puffs is just irresistible. You feel an overwhelming urge to accelerate the consumption process by sticking your entire head inside.

That's what this bear near Glenwood Springs, Colorado did. But he found that he couldn't get out again. When he staggered through the backyard of a local bed-and-breakfast, the owner, Jim Hawkins, came to the rescue. The Washington Post quotes him (Hawkins, not the bear):

“He essentially looked like he had a space helmet on,” Hawkins told The Post.

Hawkins lassoed the bear and tried to get the bucket off his head. That didn't work, so he waited until wildlife officers arrived. Once they tranquilized the bear, it was easy enough to remove the now-empty cheese puff container.

-via Christina H. Sommers

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"Batman Loves Him a Criminal" -- A Story Written by a Predictive Text Generator

Batman isn’t paid to destroy crime corners. He is actually attracted to crimes and also The Penguin. The Penguin begins to fall in love with guns and with gangs all over Batman. Batman is destroyed. Batman must join The Penguin. He loves him a criminal. […]

Batman must stop The Penguin in order to keep his confidence. He suspects that The Penguin is an addictive face and has no choice but to ask for more of The Penguin.

It comes across like a piece of fan fiction written by someone with a slipshod grasp of storytelling. But it wasn't written by a person at all.

Jamie Brew, the head writer for Clickhole, created a predictive text generating program. It's like the word suggestions that your cell phone offers while you're composing a text message. Gizmodo explains:

You can do this on your phone. Type a word, any word. Then just keep inputting suggestions from the autocorrect and see what you come up with. “Last summer a friend showed me that you can just keep taking the phone’s suggestions and write things like ‘I have a great time in my head and neck and shoulders and the rest.’ I couldn’t get enough of that,” Brew said.

The results are meandering but reasonably coherent compositions, including a freaky Craigslist ad, a car owner manual, and a revision of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. You can see a much larger version of the Batman story here.

-via Agent23

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Archaeologists Excited by Ancient Bottom Wipers

(Photo: Hui-Yuan Yeh/Journal of Archaeological Science)

Archaeologists in western China found 2,000-year old "personal hygiene sticks" in a latrine pit. In the days before toilet paper, people would wrap cloths around sticks, then use those sticks to clean themselves after defecating.

The researchers sent the sticks to a laboratory for study and were delighted at the results. The bottom wipers from this ancient trading post along the Silk Road contained eggs from 4 parasites, including the Chinese liver fluke. This was the first clear evidence that diseases had spread from east to west by travelers along the Silk Road. The Guardian reports:

The fluke needs marshy conditions to complete its life cycle, so could not have come from the desert area around the ancient Xuanquanzhi relay station.

The Chinese liver fluke originated thousands of miles away from the arid Tamrin Basin, an area including the Taklamakan Desert - one of the harshest on earth, dubbed “the desert of death” by the Chinese. 2,000 years ago the parasite’s unfortunate host would have been a very unhappy traveller, producing symptoms including fever, griping pain, diarrhoea and jaundice. It has also been associated with some forms of cancer.

The relay stations at oasis towns, where travellers could rest and buy food, were crucial for any traders on the Silk Road hoping to survive the desert crossing.The bone dry conditions at these sites have preserved a wealth of organic remains for archaeologists.


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The Scream Action Figure

Japanese toymaker Figma has gained a lot of attention by producing poseable action figures inspired by famous works of art, including the Venus de Milo, Michelangelo's David, and Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Most recently, it rolled out for your action-packed imaginative playtime an adjustable figure of the haunted soul in Edvard Munch's The Scream (content warning: NSFWish image).

(Photos: TAG Hobby)

-via Super Punch

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David Attenborough Narrates Pokémon Go

(Video Link)

Lovin Dublin spliced the iconic voice of naturalist David Attenborough with scenes of people playing Pokémon Go. The result is a nature documentary in a magical world of pocket monsters. Listen to him describe the lifecycle and feeding habits of Charmander, Spearow, and other wonders of the great outdoors.

-via VA Viper

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Study: Music Is Becoming More Narcissistic

(Video Link)

Explicit bragging and self-congratulation used to be a phenomenon of rap music. Now, according to a study conducted by University of Michigan-Dearborn psychology professors Pamela McAuslan and Marie, Waung it's pervasive in all popular genres. The Pacific Standard describes their research method:

McAuslan and Waung analyzed the lyrics of the top 100 songs from the years 1990, 2000, and 2010, as compiled by Billboard magazine. (Its ratings are based on sales, streaming, radio airplay, and “audience impressions.”) Coders looked for examples of eight categories of self-promotion, including referring to oneself by name and demanding respect.

More recent songs demonstrated increased narcissism:

“Compared with earlier years, songs in 2010 were more likely to include the singer referring to the self by name, general self-promotion, and bragging about wealth, partner’s appearance, or sexual prowess,” the researchers report. “A similar, albeit nonsignificant increase, was also seen for bragging about musical prowess and demands for respect. Overall, the most popular music from 2010 contained more self-promotion than music from 1990 or 2000.”

McAuslan and Waung assert that this trend reflects a cultural shift about the role of the self in society:

“Music both reflects and influences the values of the culture,” McAuslan and Waung write. The hit songs we listen to “both represent the increasing individualistic/narcissistic tendencies in the culture, but also further convey that promoting oneself through bragging, demands for respect, and self-focus is acceptable.”

-via Jonah Goldberg

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Play Pokémon Go Safely with the Poké-Han

Have you been walking around for hours gathering Pokémon? You may develop "gamer's arm" -- a medical condition incurred after holding up your arms for hours at a time.

Thankfully, the staff at Rocket News 24 has a solution! They invented the Poké-Han. It's a hands-free cell phone holder. All you need is a wire coathanger and a rubber band. You can make a frame for your phone that makes it readable, all while using your hands elsewhere.

(Video Link)

This tutorial video shows you how to make your own.

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Dog Saves Owner's Life

(Photo: CNN Newsource)

This is Guy, a dog who lives in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania. On Thursday, he was hiking in the woods with 79-year old human, who fell and hit his head. The human lay there for 12 hours while Guy frantically tried to get the help of other nearby two-legs. WJLA reports:

The dog reportedly ran up the bank where the rescuers were, and would stop every 20-30 feet, barking until he led them to where the elder man was lying. […]

"It was like watching an episode of 'Lassie,'" says emergency responder, Matthew Mariscano.

Good boy.

-via Stephen Green

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

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New Gadget Tells You Where You Missed a Spot While Applying Sunblock

(Image: Voxelight)

Enjoy the summer sun, but make sure that it doesn't burn you! Put sunblock everywhere. Yes, even there.

Sunscreenr is a new device invented by the startup Voxelight to make sure that you get complete coverage from your sunblock. It's a pocket-sized camera that looks for ultraviolet light. When that ultraviolet light is blocked--which is what sunblock does--then it shows up black on the camera. Whatever isn't black didn't get covered with sunblock. Mashable explains:

Inside Sunscreener is a 1.3 mp UV camera that looks for reflected UV rays. If the sunblock is doing its job, it absorbs the rays. As a result, any place where you did apply the sunblock will look, through the viewfinder, black — because it's not reflecting UV light — and the uncovered spots will look pale. If you are alone, you can record up to 30 seconds of video in the device and then watch back inside Sunscreenr to see if you missed covering any spots. Voxelight representatives tell me that this method will work on darker skin complexions as well, though the contrast will be somewhat diminished.

-via Ace of Spades HQ

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Dog Howls with the Wolves in Zootopia

(Video Link)

This German Shepherd feels for his comrades. When the wolves in the new Disney movie Zootopia howl, he joins in.

Appropriately, the scene is about a mass howling that started accidentally.

-via Pleated Jeans

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

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Janine Ker's Technicolor Graffiti Hair

It's called "graffiti hair." Like a lot of graffiti art, it involves stencils and a spray paint. Janine Ker, a hairstylist in Pasadena, California, makes her unique compositions by spraying a dye over stencils. By combining different layers of colors and shapes, she creates vibrant images on the hair of her clients. 

Continue reading

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What It's Like to Be an Underwater Crime Scene Investigator

(Photo: Underwater Criminal Investigators)

The diver is holding a holstered knife in one hand and a stolen handgun in the other. Perhaps the last criminal to possess them thought that they'd disappear in the murky water. But crime scene divers found them.

This is the world of underwater criminal investigation, a criminal justice specialization described at length in an article at Atlas Obscura. These divers know how to search bodies of water for evidence and how to handle that evidence so that it can be used in the criminal justice system. Mike Berry, an underwater criminal investigator, describes the hazards of his profession:

The taxing conditions don't just involve muck and pitch blackness. “The water that we dive in, a lot of it is contaminated," Berry says, "so just ingesting some of that water could kill you.” Divers can step on broken glass or injure their hands on nails. And then there are the creatures of the deep, some of whom make their presence known at highly inconvenient moments. Depending on the location of the investigation, divers may have to contend with turtles, poisonous snakes, alligators, or inquisitive fish.

“The worst I’ve been bit was from a snapping turtle," says Berry. "You know, you can’t see them, so as your hand is moving along the bottom, feeling, you hope you get the rear end of the turtle instead of the front end. I got the front end one day ... it went right through my hand, from one side to the other.” The pain, he says, was "like a lightning strike.”

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Beautiful Portraits Made of Flowers

Vicki and Brooke are a mother-daughter team of artists. They operate Sister Golden, an online boutique of their marvelous crafts. The most fascinating among these works are their compositions made with pieces of flowers and other plants

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Dark Helmet Hates It When Her Schwartz Gets Twisted

(Photo: David Ngo)

For the San Diego Comic Con, the famous cosplayer Leeanne Vamp dressed as Dark Helmet, the Darth Vader analog from the Mel Brooks parody film Spaceballs. I doubt she'll find the suit as suffocating as Rick Moranis did.

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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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