Japanese Company Rents Out "Uncles" to Do Your Chores, Give Advice, Or Listen to You Vent

iStock
iStock

In Japan, being referred to as an ossan is not a compliment. The term is a rude way to say "uncle," and it typically brings to mind the stereotypical image of a messy, out-of-shape middle-aged man who likes to tell long stories and crack corny jokes. But one 50-year-old fashion consultant from Tokyo is trying to counter the negative connotations attached to the word with a TaskRabbit-esque service staffed by older men, according to Business Insider.

Takanobu Nishimoto launched his business, Ossan Rental, in 2012. Through his site, clients can rent an ossan for 1000 yen ($8.82) an hour to perform a wide range of services, whether it's help moving, serving as a date to a wedding, or just being someone to vent to for an afternoon. The idea is that a mature man's life experience makes him useful in a variety of situations, but Nishimoto believes that the service benefits the ossan as well, helping him gain confidence and giving him a reason to spruce up his appearance.

In the company's early days, Nishimoto himself was the only ossan available to rent, but today, customers have close to 80 uncles to choose from. Everyone on the site is personally screened by Nishimoto, both for safety reasons and to ensure their personality is a good fit for the company. (Long-winded talkers usually don't make it past the application process.) He also charges each ossan an 88.89 yen a month membership fee and requires them to sign a one-year contract.

When he founded the service, Nishimoto expected to get most of his business from young men looking for life advice. Instead, most of his clients today are women in their 20s to 50s. He receives roughly 900 reservations a month, with the most popular ossan in the database receiving 50 to 60 rental requests.

The business model has become so popular that it has already spawned copycats in Japan. (There are international variations on the idea, too—Brooklynites can "rent a mom" for $40 an hour.) If you're in Japan and want to rent from the original, visit ossanrental.thebase.in to find an ossan for hire.

[h/t Business Insider]

Astrophysicist Developing Face-Touching Warning Necklace for Coronavirus Gets Magnets Stuck Up His Nose

Nothing good can result from shoving things up your nose. One astrophysicist learned that the hard way.
Nothing good can result from shoving things up your nose. One astrophysicist learned that the hard way.
RusN/iStock via Getty Images

History is full of innovators who have suffered for their ingenuity. Thomas Midgley, Jr., for example, was struck with polio and developed a pulley system to help get himself out of bed. He was strangled by the contraption. Henry Smolinski thought he had a viable prototype for a flying car made from a Ford Pinto in 1973. A wing fell off and killed him.

All things considered, Daniel Reardon got off easy. He only had to have magnets professionally removed from his nose.

Reardon, an Australian astrophysicist, is one of many innovators attempting to assist in the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Guardian, Reardon was in the process of designing a necklace that could alert the wearer when they were in danger of touching their face, one of the primary methods of transmission for viral illness. His idea was to have magnets worn on wrists that would activate a circuit on the necklace.

But then Reardon realized the electronic field in the necklace only completed its circuit without a magnetic field, meaning it buzzed constantly. Having failed in his task and growing bored, Reardon decided to play with the powerful neodymium magnets, clipping them to his earlobes and then his nostrils. This, he said, is when things went “downhill.”

When Reardon removed one set of magnets from outside his nostril, the remaining magnets inside his nose were attracted to one another. Reardon then used more magnets to try and remove them, expecting the outside pull would negate their attraction on the inside of his nose. Unable to control them, he soon found himself with multiple magnets lodged in both nostrils.

After realizing pliers only made the problem worse—they were attracted to the magnets—and that he had failed to achieve his goal of not touching his face, Reardon went to the hospital, where all of them were removed. (One nearly fell down his throat, but he managed to cough it up.) Doctors made an informal diagnosis of self-inflicted injury due to isolation and boredom.

Neodymium magnets are typically sold with cautions, as they are strong enough to “leap” toward each other from several inches or even several feet apart. Though they do not often come with explicit warnings not to shove them inside your nose, it's best avoided.

[h/t The Guardian]

Canadian Man Named Lorne Grabher Stripped of His Right to Have a ‘GRABHER’ License Plate Is Appealing the Court’s Decision

Lorne Grabher shows off his forbidden license plate.
Lorne Grabher shows off his forbidden license plate.
CBC News, YouTube

For about 25 years, Nova Scotia, Canada, was home to a vanity license plate emblazoned with “GRABHER.”

Lorne Grabher had given it to his father as a 65th birthday gift in 1991, and it eventually passed to Lorne himself. Anyone who knew the Grabhers no doubt recognized the last name, but the same couldn’t be said for one passerby, alarmed at what seemed like a blanket imperative for abduction and assault. In November 2016, the anonymous individual filed a complaint with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, who informed Grabher that his plate would be revoked the following month.

Grabher, proud of his Austrian-German heritage and outraged at what he considered to be a violation of his rights, sued the Registrar. This past January, CBC News reported that the Nova Scotia Supreme Court sided with the Registrar, ruling that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not extend to this particular situation.

“The seven letters (‘GRABHER’) on a government-owned license plate can be interpreted as promoting sexualized violence (without full contextual information),” the court stated in its decision. “Preventing harm that could flow from such a message on a government plate must be seen as pressing and substantial.”

Though disappointed with the outcome, Grabher was determined to continue the fight, even if that meant taking the case all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court.

“I’m not giving up,” he told CBC News in January. “I’m in it for the long haul.”

True to his word, Grabher is now filing an appeal through his lawyers at Calgary’s Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on the grounds that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does, in fact, cover personalized license plates, and there is no evidence to suggest that Grabher’s plate actually promotes sexualized violence [PDF].

While you wait for the next chapter of this epic battle of wills to unfold, check out 11 other controversial license plates here.

[h/t CBC News]

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