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11 posts tagged with france by elgilito.
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The track to nowhere

Travellers passing through the Beauce region in France may have noticed this strange, lonely concrete structure raised on pillars over the fields. This is the 18-km long elevated track built in the 1960s for testing the Aérotrain (WP, video compilation turn off your speakers unless you love Queen), a propeller or jet-and-rocket driven high-speed (400 km/h) monorail that was supposed to revolutionize train travel (a visit by Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell). However, the French government preferred the less expensive and less futuristic TGV and the project was mothballed in 1975. The Aérotrain's inventor, Jean Bertin, died a few months later. All Aérotrain prototypes were destroyed except one.
posted by elgilito on Mar 11, 2013 - 32 comments

World War 2 bunker, pristine condition, barely used

In July 1939, French authorities started building a 120m² bomb shelter under the Gare de l’Est (East Railway Station) in Paris so that traffic controllers could keep on working if the station was attacked. However, it was not completed in time and the Germans used it instead. The bunker, which includes a pedal generator, is still there, in near perfect condition. Other images and video (in French). Bonus underground Parisian bunker: this Cold-war era bunker under the Ministry of Transportation (equipped with tandem pedal generators) will become a datacenter early 2014.
posted by elgilito on Feb 22, 2013 - 28 comments

Albert Dubout

Albert Dubout (1905-1976) was a highly popular and prolific French cartoonist and illustrator, whose works were ubiquitous in France from the 1930s to the 1970s: Dubout illustrated books, film posters (notably those of Marcel Pagnol), magazines, advertisements, postcards and some of his cartoons were eventually adapted as a movie. Today, Dubout is best known as the creator of the Dubout couple (movie version; figurine version), consisting of a very large, full-bosomed, dominating, angry-looking wife with a diminutive, hapless and mustachioed husband in tow. Dubout's work is often highly detailed, and images larger than the tiny ones available on the official website are shown under the fold. [more inside]
posted by elgilito on Jan 26, 2013 - 2 comments

Proposition 1803

In the early 19th century, a man named Charles Fanaye and his lover Marie-Hélène sought to wed in Southern France. He was a former Napoleonic soldier, back from the Campaign in Egypt. She was an Ethiopian woman who had rescued him from the Mameluks and followed him to France. Like many other interracial couples, Charles and Marie-Hélène begged for an exception to the 1803 decree that banned marriage between blacks and whites. It was only after 16 years, when the ban was silently lifted in 1819, that they could finally marry. A (long) paper by Jennifer Heuer on the arbitrary definitions of race in post-Revolutionary France and on "the persistence of certain couples in legitimizing their bonds".
posted by elgilito on Jun 10, 2012 - 22 comments

Where the two-humped camel roam

"OK. HOLY COW! OK, that's fine, two big camels just passed me by... (giggling) Yes... There are camels on the highway. There's a circus somewhere and there are camels on the highway. Yes, Yes. No, no, no, there are two camels and I'm filming them." French drivers meet a couple of stray camels on a Normandy highway and try to capture them.
posted by elgilito on Jun 6, 2012 - 17 comments

The pleasure of the gods

French hospitals have rooms where medical students (internes) can rest, lunch and vent off steam between calls, but these salles de garde are not your usual staff room. They are brightly decorated with lively mural paintings showing the current internes, the doctors and other hospital staff engaging in very (very) explicit sex acts. The frescos are done by the students themselves or commissioned from local artists, and are replaced on a regular basis. Here are some choice examples (sorted by hospital): Ambroise Paré, Cochin, Widal, Louis Mourier, Saint-Louis, Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Institut Gustave Roussy (ibid) (ibid), Lariboisière, Robert Debré, Saint-Cloud, Tenon. Many other images can be seen on the website of an association of former internes. [Totally NSFW unless you're a medical student training in France] [more inside]
posted by elgilito on Mar 19, 2012 - 203 comments

You know, for kids

Sex: wot's the big deal is a sex exhibition for kids currently taking place at the Cité des Sciences in Paris. Pre-teens can learn about love, puberty, making love and making babies, and they can also experiment a little bit. The show is based on Willies: a user's guide (in French: Le zizi sexuel) by Swiss comics creator Zep, and features the rising star of French playgrounds, Titeuf (NSFW unless you're a French preteen)
posted by elgilito on Nov 21, 2008 - 42 comments

Sarkozy unbleeped

Pardon my French: after (allegedly) showing up drunk at the G8 (Mefi), walking out from 60 minutes, and almost getting in a fight with angry fishermen (translation), French President Sarkozy, while visiting the Paris International Agricultural Show, snaps at a man who refused to shake his hand "Casse-toi pauvre con". But what exactly does this mean in English? He hasn't (yet) slapped a kid, unlike his presidential rival Bayrou, but he's still not in the same league as De Gaulle, who answered to a heckler shouting "Mort aux cons!" ("Death to the idiots!") the sublime "Vaste programme, en effet" ("Tall order, indeed").
posted by elgilito on Feb 25, 2008 - 57 comments

"Attacking that battle station is not my idea of courage. It's more like, suicide"

September 11, 2001. It's 10:15 am and the South Tower just went down. Millions of French people are watching the live coverage of the events on TF1, France's major TV channel, with star anchorman Poivre d'Arvor doing a running commentary. Then, for a split second, a character from a famous movie happily tells us (in French subtitles) that he "did it" (18 s in the video) (Dailymotion video). [more inside]
posted by elgilito on Jan 9, 2008 - 84 comments

Segregation for the dummies

Secret information concerning the Black American Troops. We must prevent the rise of any pronounced degree of intimacy between French officers and black officers. We may be courteous and amiable with these last, but we cannot deal with them on the same plane as with the white American officers without deeply wounding the latter. In August 1918, the French liaison officer at the American Expeditionary Force Headquarters gave his fellow officers a primer in US-style racial segregation, urging the military and civil authorities to implement similar procedures on French soil, as the local populations were felt by US authorities to be much too friendly towards American Black troops (PDF, page 13) (see also the first chapter of Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light). This memorandum, however, was never distributed and other similar leaflets were eventually destroyed by the French government. One soldier of the 93rd Division wrote his mother: These French people don't bother with no color line business. They treat us so good that the only time I ever know I'm colored is when I look in the glass.
posted by elgilito on Oct 19, 2005 - 18 comments

Counter-terrorism by trial and error

The French experience of counter-terrorism (PDF): from the "sanctuary doctrine" to active prevention, a detailed history of how France learned counter-terrorism the hard way. Since [the French revolution] France has been on the bleeding edge of terrorism, confronting terrorism in all its guises, from bomb-throwing anarchists to transnational networks. In the last 20 years, France suffered repeated waves of terrorism of both domestic and foreign origin, each which spawned a variety of reforms to an already complex system for combating terrorism. As a result, France has developed, largely by costly trial and error, a fairly effective, although controversial system for fighting terrorism at home.
posted by elgilito on Jul 9, 2005 - 54 comments

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