Boing Boing 

Hanging tree forts: Cocoon Tree


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.

COCOON TREE - dormir dans les arbres (warning: autoplays [terrible] music) (via Geekologie)

French family enjoys its consumer durables, invokes Talking Heads

This French family is certainly pleased by its exciting gadgets!

Deuxième leçon: la question & le washmatic

Bees make blue honey by harvesting waste from M&Ms manufacturing


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 beekeepers in Ribeauville abuzz over blue honey (via IO9)

(Image: M&Ms, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from gcourbis's photostream)

Modified pop culture Virgin Mary icons


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.

Soasig Chamaillard | Détournement Statue Sainte Vierge | Plasticienne Sculpture | Nantes et Paris (via Geisha Asobi)

France's Hadopi finally punishes someone for infringement -- a guy whom everyone agrees isn't an infringer

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.

Air France pilot begs first class passengers for cash to refuel in Damascus

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.

France's batshit HADOPI copyright law on life-support; three strikes is dying

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."

Repealing French Three Strikes Law is the Next Step to Safeguarding Free Expression

Marat/Sade online

"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.

Marat/Sade (1967) (via MeFi)

Obituary for a French superspy

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.

Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld (via Kottke)

(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail of a larger image on The Telegraph)

Rainbow school remodel


Palatre & Leclère did this spectacular remodel on the Ecole Maternelle Pajol in Paris's 18th arrondissement. As Tuija Seipell writes on The Cool Hunter: "The building has kept its 1940s brick-wall feel, yet it radiates exuberance and has an up-to-date energy. Most likely its current users feel it was built just for them."

Ecole Maternelle Pajol - Paris (via Super Punch)

Minitel goes dark

The last 800,000 Minitel terminals in France will go dark this month, as the service is finally shut down. Minitel was a proprietary network service that used "free" dumb terminals to access online services, typically at a small fee for each use. Minitel was much loved by business because every use generated revenue for them, and by its users, especially when it was the only game in town.

But it's also an existence proof of the power of open systems. Minitel boasts 1,800 services up and running. Imagine if the Web boasted a whopping 1,800 websites -- like the "500-channel cable universe," the numbers that seemed like an unbelievable banquet of choice in the 1980s now seem like a farcically constrained menu, the digital equivalent of the half-dozen standard clothing styles in a Soviet department store.

At the end of this month, Minitel will finally go offline, ending a brave experiment in French exceptionalism. The surprise is that the network has lasted so long.

There are still 810,000 Minitel terminals in France, mostly used by older people who dislike computers. There are still 1,800 services available through Minitel, although most people these days contact them (final indignity) through the Internet.

Argument still rages about whether the Minitel, run by France Telecom and its predecessor, the PTT, was a fast-track into the future or a destructive dead-end. The mushroom-coloured box has become an emblem of France's struggles with a globalised, and allegedly Anglo-Saxon dominated, world.

It has often been argued that the obsession of the French state with the Minitel impeded France's conversion to the Internet. Either way, Minitel itself proved to be a kind of "Neanderthal- technology -” a huge evolutionary advance that was doomed to be swept away by a smarter, more flexible and more aggressive cousin.

Death of an invention (via Beyond the Beyond)

Homemade motorcycle improvised out of a Citroen 2CV in the middle of the desert


This badass chopper was (apparently) hand-built by Emile, a Frenchman whose Citroen car broke down in the middle of the northwestern African desert, and who built himself a motorcycle out of the parts, without any tools. Here's the Imgur gallery, and an accompanying Reddit thread. There's a Hack-A-Day has a rough translation from Chameaudacier's site:

While traveling through the desert somewhere in north west Africa in his Citroen 2CV , [Emile] is stopped, and told not to go any further due to some military conflicts in the area. Not wanting to actually listen to this advice, he decides to loop around, through the desert, to circumvent this roadblock.

After a while of treading off the beaten path, [Emile] manages to snap a swing arm on his vehicle, leaving him stranded. He decided that the best course of action was to disassemble his vehicle and construct a motorcycle from the parts. This feat would be impressive on its own, but remember, he’s still in the desert and un-prepared. If we’re reading this correctly, he managed to drill holes by bending metal and sawing at it, then un-bending it to be flat again.

It takes him twelve days to construct this thing. There are more pictures on the site, you simply have to go look at it. Feel free to translate the labels and post them in the comments.

MOTO page 2 - CHAMEAU D'ACIER - Emile LERAY (via Neatorama)

(Images: Daniel Denis, 2CV Magazine)

Pneumatic ping-pong ball delivery system playfully fires balls into "art environment"

r0r0 sez, "Ping Pong Ball Suction Construction is a pneumatic delivery system for ping pong balls as part of an art environment that's actually on display in Lille, France."

In Spring/Summer 2012 both guys were invited to create an installation version of Ping Pong Country in Lille’s Gare St. Sauveur. They were a bit tired of doing the same thing for such a long time over and over again, so they asked me to contribute some machinery to the environment in order to make it a bit different in its actual version. I came up with the devilish plan to offer the audience an opportunity for sabotaging the game in a playful way. “Ping Pong Country / Edition Sabotage” was born.

While some people play ping pong (preferably more than two players which then have to run around the table) another visitor can confuse the players via a separate control panel which is part of the sabotage edition: This destructive master mixer lets you switch the music to Heavy Metal (accompanied by disturbing strobe light); you can turn on fans on the ceiling for an additional wind challenge; you can just add some funny train and animal sounds with a supercool children’s toy, or – and now it comes – you can spill plenty of balls onto the ping pong table which you collected beforehand with the “Ping Pong Ball Suction Construction”!

Ping Pong Ball Suction Construction (Thanks, r0r0!)

Cityscapes made from schoolbooks


Liu Wei, an artist from Beijing, is currently exhibiting a show called "Foreign" at the Almine Rech gallery in Paris. Wei's art plays with cityscapes, and "Foreign" features cityscapes made from schoolbooks affixed with steel rods and clamps. To the right is Library No.4, above is Library No.6.

Almine Rech Gallery - Current (via Neatorama)

RIP, Moebius


Jean Giraud, the comics artist who worked under the name Moebius, has died at the age of 73. Moebius defined the style of Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal, a surreal, madcap, sometimes grotesque science fictional visual style that is often imitated but which Moebius himself produced to high spec and in such great amounts. On Tor.com, art director Irene Gallo remembers him: "He was a particular favorite among his fellow artists. Many creatives and readers will mourn his passing." Neil Gaiman also has words on his passing:

I couldn’t actually figure out what the Moebius stories were about, but I figured that was because my French wasn’t up to it. (I could get the gist of the Richard Corben Den story, and loved that too, and not just because of the nakedness, but the Moebius stories were obviously so much deeper.)

I read the magazine over and over and envied the French because they had everything I dreamed of in comics - beautifully drawn, visionary and literate comics, for adults. I just wished my French was better, so I could understand the stories (which I knew would be amazing).

I wanted to make comics like that when I grew up.

I finally read the Moebius stories in that Metal Hurlant when I was in my 20s, in translation, and discovered that they weren’t actually brilliant stories. More like stream-of-consciousness art meets Ionesco absurdism. The literary depth and brilliance of the stories had all been in my head. Didn’t matter. The damage had long since been done.

I recently reviewed The Incal, Moebius and Jodorowsky's bizarre, classic, lately reprinted science fiction comic.

The Incal: classic, weird-ass French space-opera comic drawn by Moebius, reprinted in English

In 1981, comics writer Alejandro Jodorowsky teamed up with French comic artist legend Moebius and created a new French comic serial called The Incal, (allegedly salvaging a bunch of material Jodorowsky created for an aborted film adaptation of Dune).

Read the rest

French court rules that it's illegally anticompetitive for Google to provide free maps API


A French court has ruled that Google's free Google Maps application API is anti-competitive and has ordered the company to pay €500,000 to Bottin Cartographes, a for-pay map company, as well as a €15,000 fine. Bottin Cartographes argued that Google was only planning to give away the service for free until all the competitors had been driven out of business and then they would start charging. This seems implausible to me, and contrary to Google's business model (give away services, make money from mining the use of those services). Google says it will appeal.

"This is the end of a two-year battle, a decision without precedent," said the lawyer for Bottin Cartographes, Jean-David Scemmama.

"We proved the illegality of (Google's) strategy to remove its competitors... the court recognised the unfair and abusive character of the methods used and allocated Bottin Cartographes all it claimed. This is the first time Google has been convicted for its Google Maps application," he said.

I wonder what Bottin Cartographes will do when OpenStreetMaps finishes producing high-quality, free, public domain maps of France that can be used to create APIs of the same scope and utility?

France convicts Google Maps for unfair competition (via Engadget)

Study does not show that disconnection threats terrorized France into using iTunes


IFPI, the international trade group for the record industry, has trumpeted a study that allegedly shows that France saw a surge in iTunes sales following the institution of a mass-scale regime of "disconnection warnings" -- threats to remove you and your family from the Internet if you don't stop downloading. These warnings are the first step of the controversial HADOPI system, which is the first of a series of global "three strikes" laws pushed for by IFPI.

TorrentFreak had a look at the study, which was written by researches at Wellesley College and Carnegie Mellon, and they found that none of the benefits claimed by the record industry were in its conclusions: "What the researchers found is that in France, compared to five other European countries, more music was sold through iTunes. Looking at the graph below (from the report), it’s clear that the “uplift” in France before Hadopi was introduced (March 2009) is actually much sharper than the two years after."

“We also estimated the model for the 6 months before and after September 2010, as this was the first month that HADOPI began sending out first notices. In this case, the resulting coefficient was close to zero and statistically insignificant.”

Indeed, when the three-strikes warnings were actually sent out, there was no effect on iTunes sales compared to the control countries. This is unusual, because you would expect that the hundreds of thousands of warnings that went out would have had more of an impact than the ‘news’ that this could happen in the future.

In addition, if we look at the search trends for Hadopi and The Pirate Bay we don’t see a drop in interest for the latter, suggesting that the interest for pirated goods remained stable.

Anti-Piracy Warnings Have No Effect on iTunes Sales

Air France's 1947 sleeper service


There's loads to love about this 1947 ad for Air France's sleeper service -- just look at that cutaway diagram! -- but the chart-topping eye-grabber is that awesome sleeper-service bed. Man, if Air France was still flying planes with that interior, I'd never fly anything else.

Loads more mouth-watering vintage aviation luxury ads here.

CONTEST ENTRY: Air France is FIRST...

Sarkozy's official residence is a den of piracy

Further revelations from the YouHaveDownloaded BitTorrent logger: six infringing BitTorrent swarms included computers logged into the network of the official residence of French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, of course, pushed for the HADOPI law that allows whole households to be disconnected from the net if their network is implicated in three copyright complaints. Note that there's no proof that anyone who was downloading these files got enough of them via the Sarkozy network to turn into a recognizable video or audio file; nor does it mean they were a member of the Sarkozy household. But the HADOPI law doesn't make this distinction, and who am I to argue with Sarkozy's favorite Internet law?

Tory MP regrets attending Nazi stag party

UK conservative MP Aidan Burley has apologised for any offense given by his attendance at a stag party in France where some attendees dressed up like members of the SS, chanted "Himmler Himmler Himmler" and "Eichmann Eichmann Eichmann," taunted French waiters by asking (in thick German accents) where in the Third Reich they hailed from, and toasted "the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich."

French court sends EDF execs to jail for hacking, spying on Greenpeace

EDF, the French energy company, has been fined €1.5 million and its head and deputy-head of nuclear operations have been jailed over its use of Kargus (a private security firm run by a French ex-secret service operative) to use illegal surveillance techniques against Greenpeace. I recently switched away from EDF at home and at the office (they were the energy company when we moved it) over their unbelievably awful customer service (we switched to Good Energy, who've been great) but I'm also glad to be shut of them now that I know they're run by evil crooks.

Adelaide Colin, communications director for Greenpeace in France, said the decision "sends a strong signal to the nuclear industry: no-one is above the law".

The Tribunal Correctionel de Nanterre heard that Kargus Consultants, then run by a former member of the French foreign secret service, had compiled a dossier on Greenpeace via means that included hacking into a computer belonging to former campaigns head Yannick Jadot.

EDF maintained that it had just asked Kargus to monitor the activists, and that the consultants had exceeded their remit.

But justice Isabelle Prevost-Desprez disagreed, handing three-year sentences to Pascal Durieux and Pierre-Paul Francois, head and deputy head of EDF's nuclear security operation.

EDF fined for spying on Greenpeace nuclear campaign

Crying tights


Love these crying "narrative humor" tights -- striking and funny.
Les Queues de Sardines are an original range of tights notable for their unconventional and unique graphic style. Add a pinch of narrative humor - the result is a choice of elegant and eye-catching tights that will dress up your legs with an unusual stylish and bold pattern. Screen-printed by hand in limited quantities on a farm in rural France by Olivier and Marion, these rare and exclusive articles will never go unnoticed.
Polly Tights (via Super Punch)

BART Police website hacker had no previous experience

Lamaline_5mg, the alleged "French woman" who cracked the BART Police Officers' Website Association site claims to have no experience with hacking: "They had zero security." SFWeekly writes, "she figured out how to get into BART's website by a one-page PDF tutorial and googling 'site:bartpoa.com inurl:.asp?'"

Homeopathy multinational sues blogger over statements that its mythological curative had "no active ingredient"

Samuele Riva, an Italian blogger, is being sued by Boiron, a France-based homeopathic "remedy" multinational. Riva dared to mock the company's claim that its Ooscillococcinum has no "active ingredient." The company claims that the product has been made by diluting "oscillococcinum" (a mythological substance said to be present in duck liver, though no evidence supports this claim) at 1:100 dilution 200 times, which "is the equivalent of diluting 1ml of original ingredient into a volume of water that is the size of the known universe."

Writing at ScienceBasedMedicine.org, Steven Novella calls this "a pseudoscience trifecta": Boiron claims that its imaginary element is present in its solution which has been diluted at farcical levels, and that the imaginary ingredient in question is effective at treating flu symptoms. "Essentially Boiron takes fairy dust and then dilutes it out of (non)existence."

I hope Boiron does draw a line in the sand over their oscillococcinum product, and that it becomes the center piece of a broader public discussion about homeopathy. Most of the public does not understand what homeopathy actually is. They think it means “natural” or “herbal” medicine. They have no idea that homeopathy is about taking fanciful ingredients with a dubious connection to the symptoms in the first place, and then diluting them into oblivion, then placing a drop of the pure water that remains and placing it on a sugar pill. The resultant pill is then supposed to contain the magic vibrations of the original substance.

This rank pseudoscience, which has no place in 21st century medicine, is the business of Boiron. Let’s see them try to defend themselves and their products. Let’s see them harass bloggers and those who are just trying to expose the public to the truth. Let’s see them argue in public how air bubbles in duck liver fantastically diluted can treat the flu.

Boiron vs Blogzero (BlogZero.it)

Homeopathic Thuggery (Science Based Medicine)

(Thanks, Russell!)

French copyright enforcers: "Pirates are big spenders on legit content"


HADOPI, the French agency charged with disconnecting French Internet users who use the same Internet connections as accused copyright infringers, conducted a study on media purchasing habits by copyright infringers. They concluded that the biggest unauthorized downloaders are also the biggest customers for legitimate media. Just like every other study that's looked at the question, of course, but this time the study was funded and released by one of the most extreme copyright enforcement bodies on the planet.
Joe Karaganis, from SSRC, points us to the news that there's been yet another such study... and this one is from HADOPI, itself. Yes, the French agency put together to kick people off the internet for file sharing did a study on the nature of unauthorized file sharing, too. Not surprisingly (and consistent with every other study we've seen on this topic), it found that those who spend a lot of money on content... were much, much, much more likely to also get content through unauthorized means. HADOPI released the results in a somewhat convoluted way (perhaps trying to downplay this result), but Karaganis reformatted the results to make this clear.
Another Day, Another Study That Says 'Pirates' Are The Best Customers... This Time From HADOPI

Hadopi, biens culturels et usages d’internet : pratiques et perceptions des internautes français. (PDF)