America can be a lonely place. Study after drearystudy suggests that every year we feel a little more isolated and unloved. So it’s probably not surprising that a new business called The Snuggle House, offering up an unusual menu of emotional comforts, was set to open in Madison, Wisconsin last fall. The Snuggle House was exactly what the name suggested—a place where the disconnected could come and, for $60 an hour, cuddle with one of four cuddle technicians (three women, and one man). It might sound like a predatory, and maybe even ribald service, but owner Matthew Hurtado, a man who say’s he’s familiar with loneliness, considers cuddling a necessary, therapeutic service for those who are short on company. Still, the project didn’t sit well with some Wisconsinites, who delayed the storefront’s opening until November, ultimately concerned that it might be a front for or turn into a brothel. After just three weeks in business, the flack built to the point that Hurtado was forced to concede defeat, and the ostensibly innocent and honorable store shuttered its doors.
This house in Tokyo sits on a tiny plot of land—just 27 square meters—and it's squeezed in between two other buildings. But it happens to sit across the street from a park, and the architect was inspired to design everything in the building around that fact. The living room has a huge window that looks directly at the trees, while the walls are exactly the right size to crop out any sight of the street. A loft at the back faces the park, too, and open stairs offer another view. Despite the diminutive size, it doesn't seem that cramped inside. And I'd take easy access to a park over more space any day.
Nature reports that the huge 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan at 2.46 p.m. on Friday (local time) will be followed by "a number of major aftershocks in the next weeks"—and, surprisingly, that the March 11 quake was itself an aftershock of a 7.2 quake that also took place below the Pacific sea floor near the northern Miyagi Prefecture on March 9.
The Japanese have a propensity for turning the mundane into its exact opposite—making it either really cute or really stylistic. Usually, really cute. I mean, we're talking about the culture that gave birth to Pokémon, anime, and almost all things anthropomorphic. Case number one: It's a manhole cover, but it also shows the logo of the local baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp (that's right, the cuteness has permeated their baseball league). It's beautiful.
In America, manhole covers are just manhole covers. In Japan, they're an art form. So much so that Remo Camerota has a blog about them. And a book. And an iPhone app. But it's more than just an art form, really. It's a state of mind. It's a philosophy that declares, "no, I'm not content with just doing what I need to do, I want to elevate it."