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by Chuck Shepherd

London Fashion Week usually brings forth a shock or two from cutting-edge designers, but a September creation by Rachel Freire might have raised the bar: a floor-length dress made from 3,000 cow nipples (designed to resemble roses). Initial disgust for the garment centered on implied animal abuse, but Freire deflected that issue by pointing out that the nipples had been discarded by a tannery and that her use amounted to “recycling.” The 32-year-old Freire, who has worked with mainstream entertainers such as Christina Aguilera, was kept so busy with the animal-abuse angle that she was largely spared having to explain another issue — why anyone would want to wear a dress made with cow nipples.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

• Death is big business in Japan, with 1.2 million people a year passing away and overtaxing the country’s cemeteries and crematoriums. With the average wait for disposal at least several days and space running short in funeral homes, “corpse hotels” have opened in many cities, with climate-controlled “guest rooms” renting for the equivalent of about $155 a night, with viewing rooms where relatives can visit the bodies daily until cremation is available.

Weird Science

• In July, a surgeon from Britain’s Oxford Radcliffe Hospital announced a cure for a 57-year-old man with a rare condition that made, in his mind, audible and ever-louder sounds whenever his eyeballs moved. “Superior canal dehiscence syndrome” elevates the interior sounds of the body (such as heartbeat and the “friction” of muscles moving against muscles) to disturbing levels.

DMV Is a Dangerous Place

(1) The Department of Motor Vehicles office in Roseville, Calif. was closed for a week in July after a driving school student crashed into the building and left a five-foot hole in the wall. (2) A young man taking a test at the drivers’ center in Brisbane, Australia in August lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a bench outside the building, hitting his mother, who was waiting for him. (3) A 56-year-old DMV driving tester was killed in July when the woman she was evaluating ran off the road in Williamsburg, Va. and struck a tree.

People With Issues

In October, a court in Ottawa, Ontario sentenced pornography collector Richard Osborn, 46, to a year in jail on several charges, but dismissed the more serious child porn counts. Judge Robert Fournier ruled that Osborn’s hard-core images of Bart and Lisa Simpson, and Milhouse, were not illegal, on the grounds that he could not be sure of the characters’ ages. (Baby Maggie Simpson was depicted, but she was not involved in sex.) Judge Fournier was clearly exasperated at Osborn’s perversions, among them his homemade video of swimsuit-clad youngsters, interspersed with shots of Osborn himself masturbating, aided by a Cabbage Patch doll whose mouth had been cut open. At one point, a disgusted Judge Fournier cut off the presentation of evidence. “Enough,” he said. “We are not paid by the taxpayers to sit here and torture ourselves.”

Least Competent Criminals

One would think the robber of a gas station would consider filling the tank before fleeing. However, Moses Gift, 47, was arrested in September in Winston-Salem and charged with robbing the Huff Shell station — shortly before running out of gas a short distance away. And in Winder, Ga., Micah Mitchell was arrested in October shortly after, according to police, he crashed through the front door of a BP station to steal merchandise. He was arrested minutes later a few miles from the station, where he had run out of gas.

‘© 2011 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate

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