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What French People in 1900 Thought Life Would Be Like in 2000

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Wikimedia Commons

These images, which were drawn by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists, originally appeared on paper cards enclosed in cigarette/cigar boxes and, later, as postcards. They were first produced in 1899 for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, with additional cards being released in 1900, 1901 and 1910. There are 87 known scenes, but here are some of the more striking. In addition to a range of tedious activities going automatic, the biggest theme seems to be an anticipation that we will tire of earthly pursuits and take to the sea and sky.

1. At School

Unfortunately for modern students, the prediction of a school where learning is simply wired into one's brain never came to be. Fortunately, this means they've avoided having to wear headpieces that look like Princess Leia wigs.

2. The New-Fangled Barber

The French anticipated we'd have a lot of trust in our modern machines, even when it comes to using sharp objects awfully close to the jugular.

3. Aero-Cab Station

Although the cars would become airborne, the fashions, apparently, would stay pretty much stuck in the late 19th century.

4. Aerial Firemen

I think it was Icarus who had something to say on the matter of flying close to an open flame.

5. In Pursuit of a Smuggler

And if the firemen get wings, of course the police do as well. And here's another one, where police attempt to apprehend airborne criminals with a nightstick.

6. An Aerial Battle

They were right in thinking warfare would also go skyward; however, a battleship based on a balloon would be a major liability these days.

7. A Torpedo Plane

They were only slightly ahead of their time in anticipating that aerial attacks would allow for bombardment.

8. Hunting by Air

We really haven't made as much progress on the individual-flying-apparatus front as was anticipated.

8. The Little Eagle-Nest Robbers

Even children were expected to make recreational use of wings. But the French of the early 1900s failed to predict that parents would become more protective and probably frown on activities like antagonizing an oversized bird.

9. Correspondence Cinema

The actual mechanisms look a little more modern, but this one is pretty spot-on as far as the sentiment of audio-visual communication.

10. Air Ship

We ended up going a different route when it came to air travel, but boats suspended with giant balloons are certainly charming.

11. Madame at Her Toilette

Mornings are rough. I could see a market for this.

12. A Very Busy Farmer

The interesting thing to note here is that the mechanical devices are all electric, and thus attached to the power lines.

13. Electric Scrubbing

But still dressing like a classic French maid.

14. Auto Rollers

Which, judging by the poor fellow in the blue sweater, are trickier than they look.

15. A Whale-Bus

The postcards anticipated we'd spend a lot more time submerged in the ocean than we actually do these days. And that we'd have domesticated whales.

16. A Race in the Pacific

But where would you be going in your whale-bus? To watch the underwater eel (right?) races, of course!

17. A Croquet Party

Or perhaps to play a game of underwater croquet, which of course would remain empirically popular a century later.

18. Divers on Horseback

Giant seahorseback, that is! Vintage swords will be making a comeback any day now, I'm sure.

19. Fishing For Seagulls

In this imagined future, we spend so much time underwater even fishing gets reversed.

20. A Monster of the Abyss

But it's not all fun and games in the year 2000—apparently there will be a rise in sea monster attacks.

All photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

9.32.paper cards enclosed in cigarette/cigar boxes and, later, as postcards - See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/france-in-the-year-2000-1899-1910/#sthash.OrhQuIIZ.dpuf

paper cards enclosed in cigarette/cigar boxes and, later, as postcards - See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/france-in-the-year-2000-1899-1910/#sthash.OrhQuIIZ.dpuf
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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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