TIME society

This Chair Is Supposed to Make You Feel Less Lonely

By hugging you

anti loneliness tranquility chair by unicare japan
Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP—Getty Images

A chair that boasts a life-size fabric doll with long arms for giving sitters a big hug appears to have stolen the show at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo.

This $419 “tranquility chair,” manufactured by the nursing care goods company Unicare, is “designed for older people,” a spokesperson told AFP. According to the World Bank, about a quarter of Japan’s population is over 65, and the number of seniors living alone in Japan is expected to grow 54% by 2030, per The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Tokyo, Bloomberg reports.

MORE: Japan: Baby Robots Treat Depressed Seniors

MORE: How Feeling Lonely Can Shorten Your Life

TIME celebrity

Prince Hosted a Facebook Q&A and Answered Just One Really Specific Question

US singer Prince attends the French Open in Paris on June 2, 2014. PATRICK KOVARIK—AFP/Getty Images

But he never meant to cause us any sorrow, he never meant to cause us any pain

After a very long and notable absence, Prince finally joined Facebook this week. He just released two new albums and apparently decided that now would be a good time to engage with his fans, so his first order of business was to launch a Q&A.

“Join Prince for an exclusive Q&A on Facebook right here at 12pm PT/ 3PM EST!! Submit your questions below!!!” the post read, which prompted thousands of giddy Prince lovers to chime in with questions ranging from “You inspire millions around the globe, but who inspires you?” to “Do you ever plan to launch another website? Especially one where we can buy seats with GOOD seats?” to “Will you marry me? ;)”

Three hours after the session began, the icon — who has already amassed 1.7 million Facebook fans — finally decided to pop in and check things out. A man of logic, Prince began by tackling the very first question, which asked: “Please address the importance of ALL music being tuned to 432hz sound frequencies???” His response simply read “The Gold Standard” accompanied by this link.

And then that was it. Nothing. Just as mysteriously as he arrived, he then disappeared, failing to respond to the thousands of other questions.

This is what it sounds like when Prince fans cry.

TIME celebrity

That Time Cam and Mitch from Modern Family Crashed a Frat Party

It went down at 2:30 a.m. at Eric Stonestreet's alma mater, Kansas State University

Last night on Conan, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitch on Modern Family, had a fun little anecdote to share. He and co-star Eric Stonestreet (who plays Mitch’s husband, Cam) took a trip to Kansas State University (Stonestreet’s alma mater) to host a panel discussion and answer questions about their work in the TV industry. After the event, the actors did some bar hopping and eventually, around 2:30 a.m., Stonestreet decided it would be a good idea for them to stop by his old fraternity house. You know, because most things seem like a good idea at 2:30 a.m.

The actors took photos with some of the college students they encountered (a few of whom were, uh, not properly clothed). See? This proves that even when they’re not on set, all kinds of shenanigans ensue when Mitch and Cam get together.

WATCH: Conan Weighs In On iPhone 6 ‘Bendgate’

WATCH: Conan Shows Us What the Minecraft Creator’s Really Doing with Newfound Billions

TIME History

Archaeologists Believe They Found Dracula’s Dungeon

Circa 1450, Portrait of Vlad Tepes 'Vlad the Impaler'(c 1431-1476), from a painting in Castle Ambras in the Tyrol.
Circa 1450, portrait of Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler, from a painting in Castle Ambras in the Tyrol Stock Montage/Getty Images

The dungeon believed to have held Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for the blood-thirsty character, was recently discovered in Turkey

Archeologists in Turkey have reportedly made a spooky discovery, just in time for the start of Halloween season: the dungeon where the real-life basis for Count Dracula was held.

The cell where history’s Dracula, the Romanian prince Vlad III (nicknamed Vlad the Impaler for his gruesome tendency to impale his foes), was recently discovered during a restoration project, the Turkey-based Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Researchers are reportedly restoring the ancient Tokat Castle, where the Ottomans imprisoned the infamously cruel figure, in the mid 1400s. The team there evidently discovered a tunnel leading to two dungeons — one of which is likely to have housed Bad Old Vlad.

TIME animals

Watch a Great White Shark Attack Another Great White Shark

Cue the Jaws theme

Some truths are self-evident, like the fact that a video of a great white shark attacking another great white shark is the rowdiest thing you will watch today, probably this week, maybe ever.

You’re welcome.

WATCH: This Video Shows What It’s Like to Come Face-to-Face With a Great White Shark

MORE: Beachgoers Beware: The Great White Shark Population Is Growing Again

MORE: TIME’s Shark Cover

TIME viral

September’s Best News Bloopers Include a Guy Immediately Dropping His Brand New iPhone 6

Your monthly dose of schadenfreude

September was a big month for news — much of it serious and sinister. But of course, there were plenty of lighter, sillier moments too, mostly in the form of on-air mishaps and blunders.

Each month, the YouTube channel NewsBeFunny rounds up the funniest, strangest and most cringe-worthy bloopers so we can all enjoy a nice heart dose of schadenfreude. September’s highlights include one of the first people to get an iPhone 6 immediately dropping it on the ground, a reporter quitting on air after outing herself as the owner of a medical marijuana club, and a bat flying around a TV studio.

MORE: The Best News Bloopers of August

MORE: The Best News Bloopers of July


TIME NextDraft

Ebola in America and Other Fascinating News on the Web

October 1, 2014


1. It Is Here

Ebola is here. And if the immediate media coverage is any indication, you are supposed to follow a two step process. First, totally freak out because the virus has arrived in Texas. Second, stop making such a big deal about Ebola. With the current pace of Internet news, most of us barely had a chance to panic before being admonished to calm down. Here are the facts: A man began to develop symptoms last week but he was released by hospital officials who didn’t all seem to know he was visiting from Liberia (in a way, this blunder is the scariest part of the story). The man is back in the hospital, and those who had any contact with him — “including three members of the ambulance crew that transported him to the hospital and five schoolchildren” — will be closely monitored by the CDC for the next three weeks. Hopefully that makes you feel worse/better.

+ Take the Vox Quiz: Have you touched the vomit, blood, sweat saliva, urine, or feces of someone who has Ebola? If you answered no, you don’t have Ebola.

+ Once you’ve panicked and calmed down about one disease, it’s the perfect time for the media to tell you about the viral epidemic that should really terrify you.

+ Some positive news on the Ebola front: outbreaks in Nigeria, Senegal, appear to be contained.

2. The Silent Treatment

According to the NYT, Hong Kong’s leaders have decided not to negotiate with protestors (who, among other things, have called for Leung Chun-ying’s resignation). They’ve also decided not to use force to disperse the crowd. The plan: Wait them out.

+ Buzzfeed is providing live updates of the growing protest.

+ This seems like a good time to watch a new 2 minute film celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Berkeley’s free speech movement.

3. Forecast Calls For Worse

The New Yorker’s George Packer sums up the situation in Middle East in his piece, Two Speeches and a Tragedy: “A hands-off approach toward internal conflict in countries like Egypt, Syria, and Iran, did not create the space for a new partnership between the United States and the Muslim world, or allow for positive change within those societies. It’s hard to think of a worse year in modern history for the life conditions of Muslims internationally than 2014 (and there’s been plenty of competition).”

+ WaPo’s Adam Taylor introduces his collection of nine charts that try to explain the Middle East with a line that could open any article on the subject: The Middle East is complicated.

+ We know the Iraqi military needs some work on the ground. And apparently they need it in the air as well. “Iraqi military pilots mistakenly gave food, water and ammunition to enemy ISIS militants instead of their own soldiers.”

4. Paycation

As more companies analyze the data and see how damaging worker burnout can be to the bottom line, they are coming up with creative ways to attack the problem. For starters, how does unlimited paid vacation days sound? Not good enough? Maybe you’d prefer a precation: You get a two-week paid vacation before you even start a new job. (I’d take 13 days off and spend the last day finding a new job with the same perk.)

5. Elevator Glitch

The Secret Service is not having a good week. First we learned how easy it was for a man with a knife to run across the lawn and into the White House. And now it turns out that “a security contractor with a gun and three convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama.” (At least the guy didn’t enter the elevator before first allowing those inside to exit.)

+ “One intruder in a white karate outfit carried in a knife hidden in a Bible. A stranger slipped in to watch a movie with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. And a pilot crashed his Cessna into the mansion.” The NYT’s Peter Baker takes a look at the ever-expanding list of unwelcome visitors to the White House.

6. Paying a Debit To Society?

Think your bank fees are high? This excellent six-month investigation from the Center for Public Integrity uncovers how prison bankers cash in on captive customers. “JPay and other prison bankers collect tens of millions of dollars every year from inmates’ families in fees for basic financial services. To make payments, some forego medical care, skip utility bills and limit contact with their imprisoned relatives.”

+ And even after they’re released, the former prisoners still have to pay exorbitant fees to access their own money.

7. The Algorithm Method

“As we grow more reliant on applications and algorithms, we become less capable of acting without their aid.” So says Nicholas Carr in this excerpt from his new book, The Glass Cage. You can either click through to read this excerpt or have your drone pick up a copy.

8. Ample Sample

My dad used to disappear from his office for an hour or so at a time, and he never told anyone where he was going. It was a company and family mystery for years until he finally told us that he liked to go to Costco, order a hot dog, and just watch how the business worked. Apparently, he wasn’t dining alone. If it were considered a restaurant, “Costco would be number 11 on the list of the biggest pizzerias in the U.S., just ahead of Round Table.” And one of their best ways to get you to buy lunch and a whole lot more is through the psychology of samples. (Of course, my dad probably could have told you that.)

9. Splash Mob

“It’s been hard to find a comfy chunk of sea ice this summer. So walruses are opting for the next best thing: Alaska.” From Quartz: 35,000 walruses have mobbed the Alaskan coast — because there’s no sea ice left to rest on.

+ At least there are a lot of them. According to the London Zoological Society, “populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%. Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.” Let’s assume those stats are way off. Still scary.

10. The Bottom of the News

“What a nervous day it must have been in the industry when Bounty or Brawny or whoever decided to place towel perforations more closely together … Machines were retooled, perforation distances reset, and smaller sized paper towels made their way onto the shelves of Stop & Shop and ShopRite and Walmart. Consumers, waking up from a wasteful slumber, realized how useful and smart and feel-goody smaller sized paper towels were.” I highly suggest you soak up the knowledge shared in Craig Mod’s piece: There is much to learn from the paper towel.

+ If you spend twenty-three grand on a plane ticket, this is what your flight will look like.

+ Now vending machines sell local, farm fresh foods. (We’re ruining the world.)


TIME celebrity

Sarah Silverman Discusses Poop and Feminism in New SNL Promo

The comedian returns to the show 20 years after her brief stint as a writer

Back in 1993, Sarah Silverman joined Saturday Night Live as a writer and performer. Things didn’t go too well, though, and she only lasted for one season. (See some of her clips here.) But now, two decades later, the famously potty-mouthed comedian is returning to Studio 8H — this time to host the show, which also features Maroon 5 as the musical guest.

Silverman teamed up with cast member Taran Killam for this week’s promos, which mostly consist of them goofing around. Silverman talks a little bit about poop, a little bit about feminism and a little bit about the importance of voting. Yeah, we can probably expect this show to be a weird one.

On a sort of but not really related note, here’s a video of Aubrey Plaza doing a spot-on Sarah Silverman impression:


TIME Food & Drink

We’d Travel Across the Universe for These Beatles Pancakes

Got to get these into our lives

Man, you could really have a Good Morning, Good Morning chowing down on these pancakes, which look exactly like the Beatles. The video above shows how pancake artist Nathan Shields managed to craft these very intricate flapjacks.

But Shields, who is also an illustrator, math teacher and father, doesn’t limit his edible art to musicians. On his Facebook page, he posts pictures of other creations, featuring everything from marine animals to Star Wars characters. Still, we’re pretty sure the Fab Four flapjacks are our favorite. Even the official Facebook page for the Beatles has shared the clip.

Alternate headlines for this post included:

Everyone Should Come Together to Admire These Beatles Pancakes

We’ve Got to Get These Beatles Pancakes Into Our Lives

Happiness Is a Warm Beatles Pancake

When I Find Myself in Times of Trouble, Beatles Pancakes Come to Me

The Long and Winding Road That Leads Me to Your Beatles Pancakes

Hey Jude Don’t Make It Bad, Take a Sad Pancake and Make It a Beatles Pancake

You Say You Want Some Beatles Pancakes, Well You Know We All Want to Change the World

You May Say I’m a Dreamer, But… Beatles Pancakes


TIME society

Behold, the World’s Largest Collection of Harry Potter Memorabilia

Rebecca Blackwell—AP

No word whether Guinness World Records sent an owl to notify him

Guinness World Records has recognized a lawyer’s Harry Potter memorabilia collection as the largest in the world at 3,097 pieces.

Menahem Asher Silva Vargas of Mexico City has spent 15 years amassing magic wands, toy figurines, and Hogwarts scarves inspired by the J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books.

“My salary, my bonuses … it all ended up here,” he told the AP.

MORE: This Discovery Brings Us One Step Closer to Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak

MORE: Harry Potter Stamps Apparently Not American Enough

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