Scott A. Stevenson modded a Blu-ray laser flashlight to run at 500mW and used it to pop 100 black balloons. For science!
100 black balloons vs. Blu-ray laser! It is all over in under 8 seconds. The sound they make as they pop is a bit mesmerizing!
Note: The laser used in this video is custom made from a flashlight body and the laser diode from a 12X speed Blu-ray burner drive and not purchased in a store or online.
"A little-known French sports doctor who spent 16 years studying the busts of about 300 women sent a scare through a country known for its love of lingerie this week when he suggested bras were useless." [Reuters] — Rob
Inthralld showcases a 130 square-foot apartment in Paris, where a set of insanely clever design decisions allows for a full apartment's worth of amenities to be jammed into a teeny weeny space. I love the drawers in the steps, but of course I really love the hiding bed/sofa. Basically, I want to live in a Murphy apartment and/or houseboat.
What was once a master suite of an apartment in the Montparnasse neighborhood is now a 130 square foot micro apartment that houses all of the necessities. There’s even an extremely creative way to house the mattress-slash-sofa. The bed doubles as seating space for lounging and entertaining, which rolls away discreetly underneath a set of steps on the floor. The Magis One stools add some much needed contemporary pizazz to the inner environment, while the storage really looks like art and functions just perfectly.
France is on the verge of killing its ill-starred HADOPI system, whereby people who are accused of multiple acts of copyright infringement are disconnected from the Internet, along with everyone in their homes. After two years, HADOPI has spent a fortune and has nothing to show for it. HADOPI was enacted thanks to enormous pressure from American entertainment companies and the US Trade Representative, and was the first of the "three strikes" rules to make it into law (New Zealand and the UK also both capitulated to Pax America shortly after).
But the new president Hollande is determined to continue to have France play the role of crash-test dummy for America's failed copyright policy. As a condition of dismantling HADOPI, his government has proposed enacting the worst provisions of SOPA, the US copyright proposal that America roundly rejected last year. Under SOPA.fr, the French government will make intermediaries (payment processors, search engines, web hosts) liable for infringement, with broad surveillance and censorship powers.
The above video showing a freshwater catfish stalking pigeons and beaching itself in order to gobble them up accompanies "'Freshwater Killer Whales': Beaching Behavior of an Alien Fish to Hunt Land Birds," a paper in PLOSOne written by a group of French researchers who recorded the images on an island in France's Tarn river. The researchers hypothesize that the pigeons aren't adapted to watch for predators from below, and that the catfish are able to sense the pigeons' presence by the aquatic vibrations made by their drinking.
Cocoon Tree is a 60kg hanging tree-fort. You can gang up multiple, special-purpose cocoons (bathroom, bedroom, dining room) to build a little treetop house, with a safety net beneath. Each cocoon is supported by six guy-wires rated to 1.6 tons each, and is framed in aluminum.
Beekeepers in Ribeauville, France discovered blue honey in their hives. When they investigated further, they discovered that their bees were harvesting M&Ms manufacturing waste from a biogas plant that processes the industrial runoff from a Mars chocolate factory. The blue honey will not be offered for sale. From the BBC:
The plant operator said it regretted the situation and had put in place a procedure to stop it happening again.
"We discovered the problem at the same time [the beekeepers] did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it," Philippe Meinrad, a spokesman from Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The company, which deals with waste from a Mars chocolate factory, said it would clean out the containers, store all incoming waste in airtight containers and process it promptly, according to a company statement published in Le Monde newspaper.
French artist Soasig Chamaillard turns damaged icons of the Virgin Mary into popular culture figurines, to great effect. The pieces themselves are for sale individually, and you can buy beautiful catalogs of the whole set from 2011 and 2012 at €25 each.
The French Hadopi agency has prosecuted its first user under the country's insane anti-piracy laws, which provide for disconnection of whole families from the Internet if someone using their connection is accused of multiple acts of file-sharing. The first person to be convicted is a 40-year-old man whose ex-wife admitted to downloading some songs on his connection. The law ascribes blame for infringement to the person with the Internet account, not the person who infringes, so he is paying the €150 fine. He will not have his Internet connection taken away.
An Air France jet was diverted to Damascus due to "tensions" at its destination airport in Beirut. They couldn't take off again without refueling, and the Syrian authorities weren't about to extend credit to Air France (France is part of the coalition calling for UN intervention in the conflict). So the crew passed the hat around the first class cabin, raising "17,000" (units not specified) to pay for fuel -- though in the end, it wasn't needed.
Hadopi was the jewel in the Sarkozy regime's crown of shitty copyright policy: a rule that said if you lived in the same house as someone who'd been accused of copyright infringement, you would lose your Internet access. Heavily lobbied for by the entertainment industry and hailed as a success thanks to dodgy, misleading studies, Hadopi is now on the outs. The agency that administers it has had its budget zeroed out. Next up: outright cancellation? EFF hopes so:
Citing extraordinary costs and scant results, a high-level French official has announced intentions to defund Hadopi1, the government agency charged with shutting off Internet access of individuals accused of repeat copyright infringement. Under the French three strikes law, Internet subscribers whose connection is repeatedly used to share copyrighted material may be disconnected from the Internet and may even have to continue paying for the service (the so-called "double pain"). The three strikes law in France runs contrary to principles of due process, innovation, and free expression—yet has unfortunately served as a template for similar legislation in countries like New Zealand, the UK, and South Korea under pressure from the entertainment industry. Defunding Hadopi may mean that France won't be focusing on enforcing its three strikes law anymore, but that's not enough. France needs to repeal the three strikes law altogether.
When copyright holders (working through professional organizations) file complaints about alleged infringement, Hadopi is authorized to contact Internet access providers and issue warnings to subscribers. After the third warning of copyright infringement is issued to a subscriber, Hadopi can recommend to a public prosecutor that the individual have her Internet connection terminated. Hadopi also maintains a blacklist of subscribers to block users from simply switching ISPs after being disconnected. Though hundreds of alleged infringers have been referred to court—Hadopi has sent 1 million warning emails, 99,000 "strike two" letters, and identified 314 people for referral to the courts for possible disconnection—no one has yet been disconnected since the law was enacted in 2009.2
In speaking about the decision to significantly reduce funding for Hadopi, French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, stated: "€12 million per year and 60 officials; that's an expensive way to send 1 million emails." Filippetti also stated that "[T]he suspension of Internet access seems to be a disproportionate penalty given the intended goal."
"The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" is a play written by Peter Weiss, whose conceit is that a group of inmates in a post-revolutionary French insane asylum are talked into acting out a subversive denunciation of the revolution's betrayal by the Marquis de Sade, who is a co-inmate. And it's a musical.
My parents loved this one, and we sang the songs in the car. I've seen several productions, including the 1967 film of a live performance. It turns out that this whole film is online on YouTube, all two hours' worth. It's quite an amazing work, and the YouTube version is subtitled in English, Portuguese (Brazilian), French, Spanish and Turkish.
The Marquis de Sade is locked in the Charenton mental hospital and decides to put on a play. His overseers agree as long as he follows certain conditions. He writes and directs the other mental patients in a play based on the life of the Jean-Paul Marat. As the play progresses, the inmates become more and more possessed by the violence of the play and become extremely difficult to control. Finally, all chaos breaks loose.
The Telegraph's obit for Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld recounts the florid and exciting life of the aristocrat turned French resistance fighter turned UK special forces killer turned escape artist turned colonial enforcer in Indochina. In particular, La Rochefoucauld was a skilled escapologist, and ballsy as all hell about it:
Dropped into the Morvan with two British agents, including one radio operator, La Rochefoucauld teamed up with a Maquis group near Avallon led by a man who called himself The Pope. After destroying the electrical substation at Avallon, and blowing up railway tracks, La Rochefoucauld was awaiting exfiltration by the RAF when he was denounced and arrested. After a series of interrogations, he was condemned to death.
En route to his execution in Auxerre, La Rochefoucauld made a break, leaping from the back of the truck carrying him to his doom, and dodging the bullets fired by his two guards. Sprinting through the empty streets, he found himself in front of the Gestapo’s headquarters, where a chauffeur was pacing near a limousine bearing the swastika flag. Spotting the key in the ignition, La Rochefoucauld jumped in and roared off, following the Route Nationale past the prison he had left an hour earlier.