>Univ offers 'idleness grants'
A German university is offering "idleness grants" to applicants who are seriously committed to doing sweet nothing.
The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg advertised three €1,600 scholarship places to applicants from across Germany.
The applicants can submit their anonymous pitches until Sept 15 and will have to convince a jury that their chosen area of "active inactivity" is particularly impressive or relevant.
The application form consists of only four questions: What do you not want to do? For how long do you not want to do it? Why is it important not to do this thing in particular? Why are you the right person not to do it?
The idea behind the project arose from a discussion about the seeming contradiction of a society that promotes sustainability while simultaneously valuing success, said Friedrich von Borries, a design theorist who came up with the program.
"This scholarship program is not a joke but an experiment with serious intentions – how can you turn a society that is structured around achievements and accomplishments on its head?"
>Transparent public toilets
One of Tokyo's most popular districts has recently added some unusual new attractions: Transparent public toilets.
Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, the two new sets of see-through restrooms have been installed in Shibuya, the bustling city center famous for its busy pedestrian crossing.
Though the restrooms sound risqué, they're actually part of an innovative project aimed at changing people's perceptions of public toilets.
"There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom," says a statement on the project's official website. "The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside."
Shigeru Ban Architects' design tackles these two concerns by offering a toilet with glass walls that - at first - allows the public to see through from the outside.
But once a user enters the toilet and locks the door, the walls turn opaque to provide privacy.
>Performers could sing or play softly
Sing softly and don't shout to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, new research suggests, offering a ray of hope for musicians who have been restricted from performing in public.
Music makers have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with singing, as well as playing of woodwind and brass instruments, deemed to be a potential high risk for spreading the disease – a concern fueled by outbreaks in choirs.
But the research offers hope to performers keen to get back on stage as soon as possible.
"It is not about the vocalization – whether it's singing or speaking – it is about the volume," said Jonathan Reid, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the research. "Just by singing a little bit more softly you really reduce the risk. The volume of the activity is the main factor in governing the aerosol mass that is generated," Reid said.
>Dog walking rule in Germany
A new rule forcing Germans to take their dog for a walk twice a day has unleashed a debate on whether the state can decide what is best for the country's 9.4 million pet canines.
Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner announced she had taken expert advice and was introducing a law to ensure dogs go for a walk or run in the garden at least one hour twice a day.
"Pets are not cuddly toys - their needs have to be considered," said Kloeckner, adding pets must get sufficient exercise and not be left alone for too long. "
"Compulsory Walkies for Dog Owners? Rubbish!" wrote the top-selling Bild newspaper in an opinion piece on the new decree.
"One rule for all dogs is probably well-meant but unrealistic," said Udo Kopernik, a spokesman for the VDH German Dog Association.
Dog trainer Anja Striegel said the amount of exercise a dog needs depended on the health, age and breed of dog.
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