Did You Know Late-Night Dancing Can Get You Arrested in Japan?

Tokyo used to have one of the best nightclub scenes in the world, but all that has changed dramatically ever since the local police started enforcing a very old law that had been ignored for at least half a century. According to this law, commercial establishments cannot host dance parties unless they have a valid license.

In order to obtain such a license, venues must have at least 66 square meters of unobstructed floor space for dancing. They also need to make sure that all dancing stops at 1 am, which the law says is the curfew. Failure to comply with the rules could get club owners into serious trouble, including getting thrown in jail for weeks, or having their businesses closed down.

“Dancing is not a crime,” pointed out Ryo Isobe, a music writer from Tokyo. “But the current situation can easily make people believe that dancing is a crime. Under this law, there are almost no legal nightclubs in Japan. All-night dance parties are against the law.”

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Can You Believe This Isn’t Trash But Expertly Painted Pieces of Wood?

I wouldn’t blame you if you thought these were just simple photos of discarded trash. I was fooled as well, until I actually read the story behind them. In reality, these are pieces of wood expertly painted by super-talented Kentucky artist Tom Pfannerstill. From crushed Starbucks coffee cups to crumpled Goldfish cracker packages, he is able to create perfect replicas of all sorts of garbage he finds on the streets.

Tom calls the series ‘From the Street’; he starts off by choosing a real piece of trash and traces the outline of the object onto a flat piece of wood. Once his wooden canvas is ready, he fills it in with acrylic paints, in painstaking detail. The two-dimensional painting soon comes to life, looking exactly like a piece of trash it was modeled after.

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Man Claims African Patch of Land as His Kingdom So His Little Girl Can Be a Real Princess

Last winter, when Jeremiah Heaton’s daughter Emily asked him if she could be a real princess, the doting father didn’t have the heart to refuse. Even though he didn’t want to raise her hopes or make any false promises, he found himself agreeing to the outlandish request of a six-year-old.

“Over the winter, Emily and I were playing, and she has a fixation on princesses,” he said. “She asked me, in all seriousness, if she’d be a real princess someday. And I said she would.”

So Jeremiah spent hours scouring the internet for a suitable piece of unclaimed territory. He focused his search on the Latin term ‘terra nullius’, which means ‘land belonging to no one’. After several months of searching, he has now managed to locate an 800-square mile desert in Africa, thousands of miles away from his home in Abingdon, Virginia.

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‘Human Props’ Live in Luxury Houses but Must Be Ready to Move at All Times

The Mueller family have a unique living arrangement – they are, in fact, part of an ‘elite’ group of middle-class nomads who have agreed to a very peculiar lease agreement. They get to live in for-sale luxury homes at dirt cheap prices, but of course, there’s a catch – the house must always be in squeaky clean, in case it gets bought, and they have to be ready to move out immediately.

So while the Muellers get to enjoy the very best of houses, they need to keep things meticulously clean and maintain a precisely pleasant temperature. The mirrors have to be crystal clear at all times, and the bed needs to look like it’s never been slept in. They need special approval if they want to have more than 10 people over. When a prospective buyer wants to view the house, the family needs to disappear. And when the property is sold, they’ve got to pack and move to the next luxury destination.

It seems like a bizarre way to live, but there’s a very specific reason for it – according to real estate companies, houses sell better when they’re being lived in. Families like the Muellers lend an unmistakable energy to an otherwise empty home. The effect of their presence is so great that home-staging firms say they’re able to sell homes faster and for more money. The Muellers pay the firm about $1,200 for rent and household bills, and the firm reimburses costs every time they need to move.

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Ukai – The Fascinating Ancient Art of Fishing with Cormorants

Ukai is a traditional Japanese method of fishing that employs trained cormorants to catch freshwater fish called ‘ayu’. For the past 1,300 years, fishermen along the banks of Nagara River have been spending the summer months catching fish with the help of the highly skilled birds. Some of the other rivers where ukai is practiced include the Hozu River and Uji River.

Fishermen who are skilled at ukai have patronage from the emperor. According to legend, samurai warlord Oda Nobunaga took the ukai fishermen under his wing, conferring upon them the official position of ‘usho’ (Cormorant Fishing Master). He is said to have enjoyed watching ukai in action and vowed to protect the art.

When the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho witnessed ukai fishing, he wrote a poem to honor the tradition: “Exciting to see/but soon after, comes sadness/the cormorant boats.” In modern times, the master fishermen are still the official Imperial fishermen of the emperor of Japan. The sweetfish (ayu) they catch are sent to the Imperial family several times a year.

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Spanish Town Installs World’s First Public Toilet for Dogs

A small town in Spain has come up with a new way of dealing with dog waste – a canine public toilet. Located along a busy thoroughfare in El Vendrell, northeastern Spain, the stainless steel contraption consists of two sections placed side by side – a doggy potty and a doggy urinal.

The potty is a raised steel platform with a covered hole. Dog owners need to lift the lid for their pets to defecate, and later press a handle to flush. Jets of water are released, which carry the excrement through underground pipes into the sewer system. Right next to the potty is the urinal – also a raised platform with small holes over which dogs can squat. The public toilet is the brainchild of dog-lover Enric Girona, who has spent over ten years observing and photographing dogs. Through his work, he recognized the need for a toilet for dogs, so he set about creating one himself. “Over the years, I’ve seen that if you train and raise dogs well, these animals can be just like humans,” he explained.

Girona invented several variants of the toilet, modifying each one as he learned more and more about dog behavior. The present version of the urinal, for example, doesn’t clean itself perfectly when flushing, because need to pick the odor so they are lured to the toilet. He also had the location in mind while designing these toilets, so they’d naturally blend into surroundings like parks and other public places. “You can’t have something that clashes with the setting,” he pointed out. “The design was done with the concept of being attractive.”

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Meet the World’s First Skateboarding Cop

Joel Zwicky is one of those rare creative souls who manage to bring a touch of originality into everything they do. A former photographer and musician, Joel has worked as a patrol officer at the Green Bay Police Department, in Wisconsin, for the past decade. Unlike regular officers, however, Joel prefers patrolling the streets on his super-cool skateboard.

“I kind of had the idea, like, two years ago, just because I like to skate and I was trying to figure out how I can do it more at work so that I can – you know, if you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life,” Joel said in an interview with ABC News. The 40-year-old floated the idea to his department, but no one would take him seriously.

But earlier this year, when the department’s chief was looking for new initiatives to engage more with the community, Joel suggested the idea again. “And I said, ‘You know chief, I had this crazy idea in the back of my head what would you do if I brought my board to work and started skating it?’ And he said, ‘Can’t hurt. Just don’t get hurt please.’ So that’s kind of how it started,” Joel explained.

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Did You Know Japan Has a Quirky Shrine Dedicated to Curing Hemorrhoids?

Weird shrines are not uncommon in Japan. In the past we reported about Karube Shrine, where people go to worship breasts, and the Shinto shrines where they bury broken needles in tofu. But the weirdest one we found so far has to be the Kunigami Shrine, in Tochigi Prefecture, that allegedly prevents and cures hemorrhoids.

So how does a shrine manage to cure a painful medical condition? Well, our guess is as good as yours. All we know is that according to an ancient tradition, people who wash their backsides at a nearby river and eat egg offerings are completely cured of hemorrhoids.

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Guy Actually Gets Paid to Watch Paint Dry

Watching paint dry sounds like the most boring job in the world. But it’s actually a lot more fascinating than you’d think. For the past four years, Dr. Thomas Curwen has been working for the international paint company Dulux, watching paint dry. And the kind of stuff he looks at on a daily basis is really quite mind-blowing.

34-year-old Curwen is a research scientist from Twyford, Berkshire. His full time job involves carefully observing the changing colors and particles of paint as it dries – both on walls as well as under a microscope. It’s a pretty important job, because it ensures that the paints are durable and do not fall off at the slightest touch.

“At Dulux, we’re passionate about delivering high quality paint to our consumers,” he said. And that means we spend a lot of time using microscopes to watch paint dry, so that we can develop a better understanding of how to form the most durable films.” What Curwen essentially does is combine a fundamental understanding of paint film formation along with polymer technology to deliver paint films with excellent durability, as if they’re protected by an invisible barrier.

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The Polluting ‘Rolling Coal’ Trucks Purposefully Created to Anger Environmentalists

A group of ‘manly men’ from small-town America are performing outrageous acts to display their contempt for environmentalists. The rednecks, as they don’t seem to mind addressing themselves, blatantly refuse to accept that climate change and global warming are real. So they’re jacking up their diesel trucks to intentionally emit huge clouds of toxic smoke into the air.

Dubbed ‘Rolling Coal’, the polluting trend involves the reconfiguration of vehicles to produce higher amounts of diesel exhaust. These modified trucks force extra fuel into the engine and feature smoke stacks through which they release giant dark clouds of black smoke. Their goal is to spread the polluting fumes into the air, or at other cars, and they don’t seem to mind spending thousands of dollars to do it.

While these modifications aren’t exactly new, the trend appears to have gained more momentum in recent years. These truck enthusiasts have taken to the internet to openly express their dislike of hybrid vehicles and other environmental causes. A whole new subculture now exists online; they’re getting together by the thousands on social networking websites, sharing photos and videos of their latest exploits.

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Quirky Paper Bag Speed Dating Craze Lets Personality Take Center Stage

While most people rely heavily on looks while speed dating, this new trend in London is forcing people to do the exact opposite – choose by personality. ‘Paper Bag Speed Dating’ doesn’t allow you to see the face of the person you’re talking with. It’s basically a looks-free hookup party, where participants place a paper bag over their head. You still get to make quick decisions just like with regular speed dating, but the deciding factor is personality, not physical appearance.

Paper Bag Speed Dating is the brainchild of the people behind a new London-based dating app called LoveFlutter. They organised the event as a part of their #SayNoToShallow campaign. “Could you get a date using just your personality?” they asked, challenging people to attend their paper bag dating event. 30 women and 30 men signed up. They were given a paper bag each and were asked to personalize them using various designs – they could add quirky personal messages to serve as conversation starters. Later, they had to wear the bags on their heads. Some people did beautiful drawings, while others wrote stuff like “I used to be a spy,” or “Does my head look big in this?” paper-bag-speed-dating Read More »

Stuck in Time – Meet the Man Who Lives Like It’s 1946

35-year-old Ben Sansum isn’t very impressed with high-tech gadgets, modern appliances or the internet. Instead, he prefers the old-world charm of the 1940s. So when he purchased a small four-room Victorian cottage in Godmanchester a few years ago, he worked very hard to transform it into the perfect period house. Now, he lives surrounded by furniture and appliances that are all from the forties or older, and even adopts a 1940s-style dress code.

Ben’s strange interest in the forties began at the age of 12, when his Great Uncle Stan gave him a 1940s radio. “I guess I was always the funny boy at school that had this strange interest,” he said. “Gradually, as I grew older, I loved the music and the fashion. I’m 35 now, my parents probably think I’ve grown out of it, but I will always live by this now. I know I will never grow out of it. I shall probably die living like this. But that’s fine, because I’m ensuring that their way of life isn’t forgotten.”

“I couldn’t live in a modern house now with modern interiors,” Ben admitted. “I like this period, I like the community spirit. I don’t want to glorify the war, I like all the things that took people’s minds away from the war, the music and the fashions and the cars. Things were British-made and built to last.” And he’s filled almost ever corner of his house with these old objects that look as good as new. Right from an Aga that heats a large white kettle, to the several tea tins and boxes of war time food stacked up on his shelves, everything in his house serves as a reminder of the good times. He makes his tea in a period kettle, and serves them in 1940s tea cups.

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World’s Fastest Talking Woman Speaks 11 Words Per Second, Can Read ‘Three Little Pigs’ Story in 15 Seconds

‘Motor mouth’ Fran Capo is a fast talker – the woman can churn out over 600 words a minute, or 11 words per second! At such high speeds, you might not always be able to understand what she’s saying. I just watched a video of her telling the story of The Three Little Pigs in 15 seconds flat, and I was totally lost.

But comprehensibility is obviously not what she’s aiming for when she’s trying to break a record. The ‘Fast Talker Extraordinaire’ holds the Guinness World Record for being the fastest female talker in the world – she actually broke this record twice. She was also featured in the Ripley’s Believe it or Not – Planet Eccentric Book and in the Book of Alternative Records.

A native of New York, Fran has always been a fast talker. “Ever since I was a kid, I started doing it,” she said. “I didn’t say, ‘One day I’m going to grow up and be a fast talker,’ you know.” She started her career as a stand-up comic and sort of stumbled into breaking records along the way.

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Teqball – An Awesome Combination of Football and Table Tennis

What do you get when you combine Table Tennis and Football, and throw in a dash of technology? The answer is Teqball, an addictive new sport that’s becoming more popular every day. The sport involves the bouncing of a ball between opponents, off a highly sophisticated table designed to keep things fair.

To play a game of Teqball, all you need are a Teqboard and a ball. According to the official website, the Teqboard is a sporting equipment, very similar to a ping-pong table, that’s been designed keeping in mind the rules of mathematics and physics. So a ball will bounce off any point on the board, making it easy to reach and control. Although you can’t touch the board, it can withstand a great amount of pressure, making it durable and safe to use.

The ‘net’ at the center of the board is made of polycarbonate/plexiglass, ensuring that the ball bounces off it in a fair manner. Thanks to the unique design of the Teqboard, the only thing that matters in the game is talent; there’s no room for luck. The ball used for playing is a regular football, preferably a FIFA size 4.

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The Indian Strongman Village Where All the Men Train to Become Bouncers

For centuries, farming was the main source of income for the people of Asola-Fatehpur Beri, twin villages in northern India. But in recent times, the men of Asola have managed to completely reinvent themselves – from poor farmers to strong, well-built bodyguards. Today, almost 90 percent of the men from the 50,000-strong village are employed as bouncers at night clubs in nearby cities like New Delhi.

“In this village, there is not a single boy who does not go to the gym,” said Vijay Pahelwan, head trainer at the local ‘akhada’, or gym. “All boys exercise. They are very careful towards their body. No one drinks and no one consumes tobacco.” Most boys take up wrestling at a very young age in the hopes of making it to the Olympics. But they always have the option of becoming a bouncer to fall back on.

Young wrestling student Keshav Tewar, for instance, spends most of his time at the gym. “No matter what other job I get when I grow up, I’m going to be a bouncer,” he said. “Bouncers have fit bodies and I want to make my body fit too.”

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