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In Japan, You Can Hire a Handsome Boy To Wipe Your Tears Away

Generally speaking, it’s inadvisable to schedule a cry while at the office, but a new service in Tokyo is banking on the idea that the presence of a handsome boy might change that.

It’s all part of Hiroki Terai’s rui-katsu (or “tear-seeking”) empire. Terai began his public crying events in 2013, inviting people to view sad movie clips and cry together for free. He also published a book with photos of male models crying.

The latest venture is called Ikemeso Danshi, and it allows you to click through an online catalog of gorgeous gents before choosing one to pay you an office visit. There, he’ll wipe away your already-flowing tears or—if you need some help opening the floodgates—will kick things off with some sad, waterworks-inducing videos. The catharsis cleanup costs 7,900 yen (roughly $65).

While most emotionally stable people believe in the power of a good cry, the monetization of public emotional experiences is a growing trend in Japan. As Quartz notes, the “Ikemeso boys” are the latest in a series of—shall we say, unconventional—services involving buyable interpersonal relations including “cuddling, watching television, or cleaning up your apartment after you die alone in it.”

Japan's population is expected to drop by one-third in the next 45 years, and a 2011 survey revealed that about half of 18 to 34 year olds there were not involved in a romantic relationship. Additionally, about one-third of Japan’s residents live alone and that number is only on the rise. Divorce rates are up and marriage rates are down, which all told, makes an on-call comfort source seem like a pretty sane idea.

[h/t Death and Taxes]

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Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)
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Can You Figure Out This Newly Discovered Optical Illusion?
Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)
Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)

Ready to have your mind boggled? Take a look at the image above. What shape are the lines? Do they look like curves, or zigzags?

The image, spotted by Digg, is a new type of optical illusion published in the aptly named journal i-Perception. Discovered by Japanese psychologist Kohske Takahashi, it’s called the “curvature blindness illusion,” because—spoiler—the contrast of the lines against the gray background makes our eye see some of the lines as zigzags when, in fact, they’re all smooth curves.

The illusion relies on a few different factors, according to the three experiments Takahashi conducted. For it to work, the lines have to change contrast just at or after the peak of the curve, reversing the contrast against the background. You’ll notice that the zigzags only appear against the gray section of the background, and even against that gray background, not every line looks angled. The lines that look curvy change contrast midway between the peaks and the valleys of the line, whereas the lines that look like they contain sharp angles change contrast right at the peak and valley. The curve has to be relatively gentle, too.

Go ahead, stare at it for a while.

[h/t Digg]

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Vivid Imagery Makes Poetry More Pleasurable, According to Psychologists
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iStock

Contrary to what English teachers led us to believe, most readers don’t judge poetry based on factors like alliteration and rhyme. In fact, a new study published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts suggests that vivid imagery (i.e. sense-evoking description) is what makes a poem compelling, according to Smithsonian.

To determine why some poetic works are aesthetically pleasing while others are less so, researchers from New York University and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany, had more than 400 online volunteers read and rate 111 haikus and 16 sonnets. Participants answered questions about each one, including how vivid its imagery was, whether it was relaxing or stimulating, how aesthetically pleasing they found it, and whether its content was positive or negative.

Not surprisingly, taste varied among subjects. But researchers did find, overall, that poems containing colorful imagery were typically perceived as more pleasurable. (For example, one favorite work among subjects described flowers as blooming and spreading like fire.) Emotional valence—a poem's emotional impact—also played a smaller role, with readers ranking positive poems as more appealing than negative ones. Poems that received low rankings were typically negative, and lacked vivid imagery.

Researchers think that vivid poems might also be more interesting ones, which could explain their popularity in this particular study. In the future, they hope to use similar methodology to investigate factors that might influence our enjoyment of music, literature, and movies.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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