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For Cows Having Bad Tail Days

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bovine Bouffant Bureau: Mankind has accomplished a lot this century: space travel, computers, laser technology, genetic engineering. And yet, something was still missing.

Namely, wigs for cows.

Fortunately, a Swiss farmer has eliminated this final hurdle by introducing the world’s first bovine toupee. Actually, the stylish wigs aren’t perched on a steer’s head; they’re attached to the animal’s tail to make it look fluffier.

Inventor Werner Mueger says the tail toupees are in great demand for cows that are competing in agricultural shows, posing for magazines or--of course--trying to pick up women in bars.

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The bovine hairpieces sell for $40.

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Great Moments in History: April is the 25th anniversary of the Odor Eater. More than 150 million pairs of the anti-stink shoe pads have been sold since 1974, enough to circle the globe twice.

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Noxious Fumes Bureau: We’ve been fairly well-behaved lately, right? So we hope you’ll forgive a brief lapse into toilet humor as we discuss a new book called “Who Cut the Cheese?” which bills itself as a “cultural history” of flatulence.

Actually, we don’t recommend the book (on the basis of overly raunchy language when subtlety would’ve been funnier), but it does contain several tidbits worth passing along. One is a 1995 New York Times report on couples writing anti-flatulence clauses into their prenuptial agreements.

Another is a study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research that listed termite flatulence as a major source of air pollution. The wood-chewing insects emit 150 million tons of methane a year--and more carbon dioxide than all the world’s smokestacks.

Those figures might sound like a lot of hot air, but the author insists he’s “not pulling your leg--or your finger.” For every human on the planet, there are 1,500 pounds of termites, he writes.

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Other anecdotes:

* In 1st century Jerusalem, a Roman soldier broke wind to insult a crowd of Jews during Passover, triggering a riot that left 10,000 dead.

* Colin Leakey, son of anthropologist Louis Leakey, recently developed a “low flatulence” bean.

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Tootsie of Nazareth?: For years, scholars have been trying to uncover the “historical Jesus.” The latest development: A religious studies professor at Hamilton College in New York has concluded that Jesus probably looked like Dustin Hoffman.

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More Ms.-ery: Ms. magazine trumpets its return from the dead with this cover headline: “We’re Back! Wake Up and Smell the Estrogen.”

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Alarming Musical Trends: A Los Angeles musician is pioneering a genre she calls “urban country,” a combination of techno pop and country and western.

Also, the Cowsills are trying to make a comeback.

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Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: “Doc Tells Smoker: Quit or Die . . . Then Man Chokes to Death on Nicotine Gum!” (Weekly World News)

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Off-Kilter’s e-mail address is roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Luis Zaragoza. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


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