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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

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

Wikimedia Commons
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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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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