THIS WEEK IN COW NIPPLES
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.
The world’s real economy may be flagging, but not necessarily the make-believe economy of online multiplayer games, according to reporting by The Wall Street Journal (July) and the website Singularity Hub (August). For example, entrepreneur Ailin Graef’s Anshe Chung Studios is worth “millions” of real U.S. dollars, earned mostly by managing rentals of make-believe real estate and brokering make-believe money transactions in the game Second Life. Graef also commands top (real) dollar for her designs of make-believe fashions for players’ game characters (avatars). Two other companies are suing each other in federal court in San Francisco over the copyright to their lucrative business models of creating make-believe animals (horses, rabbits) that sell very well to players who take them on as game pets for their characters or breed them to make other make-believe animals.
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.
Artificial meat (grown in a test tube from animal stem cells) has been theoretically planned for about 10 years, but a European Science Foundation audience in September heard predictions that lab-grown sausage might be available as soon as next year. The meat is produced in sheets (“shmeat”) and would be prohibitively expensive at first, in that the largest specimen produced so far measures only about one inch long and a third of an inch wide. The biggest drawback facing artificial muscle tissue: that even lab-grown muscles require exercise to prevent atrophy.
LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS
Turned down once before, liquor manufacturer EFAG convinced Germany’s Federal Patent Court in September to award trademark protection to its schnapps with the brand name Ficken, which in German translates directly into what in English is known as the F word. The court acknowledged that the name is unquestionably in poor taste but is not “sexually discriminatory” and does not violate public morals. In fact, the court noted, the word is widely used in Germany. In March 2010, the European Union trademarks authority granted a German brewery the right to call its beer “Fucking Hell”–the first word of which is the actual name of an Austrian village and the second a German word referring to light ale.