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.
- No sooner had Anthony Sowell been convicted in August of murdering 11 women in Cleveland and burying their remains around his property than entrepreneur Eric Gein of Florida had hired someone to fill sandwich bags of soil from Sowell's property so that he could sell the souvenir dirt for $25 a gram on the Internet. (Gein follows well-publicized salesmen who have famously collected the pubic hair of New York prostitute-killer Arthur Shawcross, the crawlspace dirt from the house of John Wayne Gacy, and the "fried hair" of Ted Bundy — that fell on the floor as he was executed.)
- 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.
- Recent Alarming Headlines: (1) "Miami Invaded by Giant, House-Eating Snails" (up-to-10-inch-long snails that attach to, and slowly gnaw on, stucco walls). (2) "Scientists Develop Blood Swimming 'Microspiders' to Heal Injuries, Deliver Drugs" (spider-like "machines," made of gold and silica, smaller than a red blood cell yet which can travel through veins carrying drugs and be directionally controlled by researchers).
- In an art-science collaboration in August, Dutch artist Jalila Essaidi and Utah State researcher Randy Lewis produced a prototype bulletproof skin — or at least skin that would limit a .22-caliber bullet to only about 2 inches' penetration into a simulated human body. Genetically engineered spider silk (reputed to be five times stronger than steel) was grafted between layers of dermis and epidermis. Mused Essaidi, we "in the near future ... [may] no longer need to descend from a godly bloodline in order to have traits like invulnerability."
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.