LONDON, U.K.— It was an impressive rescue, with firefighters rushing to save 18 piglets and two sows after an electrical fault set hay on fire at a farm west of London, U.K., back in February. But the wee animals’ days were still numbered as they were recently slaughtered, according to Reuters. And as a thank you, the farmer served up the sausages to the valiant firefighters. Rachel Rivers wanted to show her appreciation for their efforts. “I’m sure vegetarians will hate this,” Rivers told the BBC. “I wanted to thank them. I promised them at the time I’d bring down some sausages for them, which they were all pleased about.” The sausages were “fantastic,” according to a spokesperson for the fire service.
TOKYO — The war on humans continues, as evidenced recently when a Japanese company introduced a robot who performs the duties of a Buddhist priest at funerals. SoftBank’s robot “Pepper” chants sutras in a computerized voice while tapping a drum, according to Reuters. Many Buddhist priests have had to work part-time to make ends meet, so when a priest is unavailable, Pepper can step in at a cost of 50,000 yen (C$450) per funeral — compared to 240,000 yen (C$2,200) for a human priest. The priestly robot, who has not yet been hired, was on display at the Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo, a convention for the funeral industry.
Practice makes perfect
TOKYO — Also at the convention were undertakers demonstrating their skills in the ritual dressing of the dead. Twenty-three-year-old Rino Terai was the winner of a contest involving four contestants who dressed live human volunteers lying on mattresses on a stage, according to Reuters. “I practised every day to prepare for this competition,” she said. “I took videos and made improvements by asking myself ‘Does this look beautiful? Am I treating the deceased kindly?’” In Japan’s Shinto religion, it’s believed the soul is impure shortly after death and by dressing a body — usually in front of close relatives — the deceased spirit is purified before it goes off to the “other world.” Japan’s aging society has increased demand for undertakers with special skills, said Kimura Kouki, head of the Okuribito Academy. “There are about 2,000 undertakers whose expertise is in dressing the deceased, but their skills vary a lot,” he said. “I wanted this competition to be a way to spur undertakers to improve their skills.”
Not quite employee of the month
FAIRFIELD, N.J. — Security guard Larry Brooks was arrested recently after allegedly stealing US$100,000 in cash from his workplace — on his first day. The 19-year-old was hired by Garda on July 25 and the very next day, security officials there contacted police after discovering money was stolen. The theft was allegedly caught on the company’s surveillance video system, said the Fairfield Police Department in New Jersey, and security officers recovered $85,900 from a vehicle parked in Brooks’ neighbourhood.
Bored to death
LONDON, U.K. — A BBC obituary editor may face some deathly stares after proclaiming he was “bored” of the extensive coverage of the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Nick Serpell was responding to a question on Twitter by a BBC presenter asking what people thought about the attention, according to the Daily Mail. “Hopefully today will be the last one on which we have to suffer mawkish media Diana drivel,” said Serpell, who worked for the BBC when Diana died. The editor also retweeted a post by Times columnist Iain Martin saying: “Incredible drivel on BBC Newsnight about Diana. It is simply not the case everyone capitulated to the madness that week. Millions of us didn’t.” Serpell apparently went on to tell the MailOnline: “People have all sorts of opinions. It was a private post, though I do appreciate that social media can sometimes be a very public place.”
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