France

The Flying TailorI admire his desire to develop a parachute in the early days of aviation, unfortunately Mr. Reichelt may have turned out to be the world’s first-ever BASE jumper. As Wikipedia records:

Believing that the lack of a suitably high test platform was partially to blame for his failures, Reichelt repeatedly petitioned the Parisian Prefecture of Police for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He was finally granted permission in early 1912, but when he arrived at the tower on February 4th he made it clear that he intended to jump himself rather than conduct an experiment with dummies.

Despite attempts by his friends and spectators to dissuade him, he jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention. The parachute failed to deploy and he crashed into the icy ground at the foot of the tower. The next day, newspapers were full of the story of the reckless inventor and his fatal jump — many included pictures of the fall taken by press photographers who had gathered to witness Reichelt’s experiment — and a film documenting the jump appeared in newsreels:


Eric Cantona first achieved fame playing soccer for Manchester United and France. He was an extremely talented striker, but perhaps is best known for his flying kung fu-style kick at a heckling fan. That’s all in the past though, and Cantona has a new career as a budding indie film star. Apparently he’s also quite conscious of the fact that there’s not much liberté, égalité or fraternité in France or the rest of the world these days, and he knows just how to bring about another revolution: everyone should go to their bank and withdraw all their cash. The system would crash and, voilà, la Révolution! Here he is in an October interview explaining how it works:


From mistaking a husband as the devil to jumping out of the second floor with a baby in their arms, everything about this story seems unbelievable. The Belfast Telegraph reports:

A baby died when a family of 12 leapt from their second floor balcony in Paris claiming they were fleeing the devil.

Eight more were injured, some seriously, in the tragedy when they jumped 20 ft into a car park in Paris suburb of La Verriere.

The baffling incident occurred when a wife woke to see her husband moving about naked in the room, police said.

She began screaming ‘it’s the devil! it’s the devil!’, and the man ran into the other room where 11 others adults and children were watching television. One woman grabbed a knife and stabbed the man before others pushed him out through the front door.





I suppose it’s somewhat comforting to know that the United States is not the only country with xenophobic pastors and politicians who want to burn Korans, or in the case of France, ban women from wearing burqas (those head-veils) in public — but it’s not exactly going to make life any easier for the French, who have already seen a threat to the Eiffel Tower as a result!






From Fortean Times: Dominating the Freemasons’ Hall’s new exhibition, Freemasonry and the French Revolution, a giant chair, all puffed up with majesty and pomp, looms over the display cases — an effect…


Cursed French Bread?Ted Goodman on PhyOrg recounts the strange events of August 16, 1951, when dozens of villagers in the French village of Pont-Saint-Esprit were struck with unexplainable and horrifying hallucinations of fire and snakes and beasts of all kinds, from, what was described as by villagers, eating le pain maudit (“cursed bread”).

Recently on Russia Today, Hank Albarelli, author of A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, suggests this incident was part of a CIA-funded experiment on foreign soil with LSD. According to Albarelli, five hundred people were affected by the “experiment” — resulting in forty people being taken to a nearby psychiatric institute and at least three suicides.

Albarelli specifically discusses this incident at around 5:10 into this video, and relates it to the work of Frank Olson, the subject of his book.


From Yahoo News:

Is a crusading French documentary maker striking a blow at the abusive powers of television — or simply taking reality TV to a new low of cynicism and bad taste? That’s the question viewers across France are asking in light of Christophe Nick’s new film Game of Death, which aired on French television Wednesday night. The documentary has generated a massive amount of attention — and naturally, courted controversy — because of the dilemma that faced contestants on a fake game show in the film: Would they allow themselves to be cajoled into delivering near-lethal electrical charges to fellow players, or rather follow their better instincts and refuse?

Game of Death is an adaptation of an infamous experiment conducted by a team led by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In order to test people’s obedience to authority figures, the scientists demanded that subjects administer increasingly strong electric shocks to other participants if they answered questions incorrectly. The people delivering the shocks, however, didn’t know that the charges were fake — the volunteers on the other end of the room were actors pretending to suffer agonizing pain. The point was to see how many people would continue following orders to mete out torture.