In the Loop

In the Loop: April 21, 2009 Archive

Human bodies, version 2.0

Posted at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2009 by Sanden Totten

Aimee-in-black.jpgIt isn't often I totally geek out about an interview. Then again it isn't often I interview someone who is a model, actress, record breaking athlete and fan of Voltron. Of course, Aimee Mullins has something in common with Voltron, they both have bionic legs.

Aimee is a double amputee, she was born without fibula bones. She got her first pair of prosthetic legs at age 2 and has been on the go ever since. In college she broke track and field records. Afterward she modeled for Alexander McQueen, played a cheetah lady in the Cremaster Cylce and has given two influential talks at the smorgasbord of awesome ideas known as TED.

Aimee-on-track.jpgAfter speaking with Rob Spence, the filmmaker who turned his fake eye into a camera, I started wondering if there was some movement of people re-imagining what a prosthetic could be. Aimee Mullins was the perfect person to ask.

Ever since she was a kid she's been demanding more from her artificial limbs. Now she's got a closet full of different legs, a pair for almost any occasion, like her carbon fiber cheetah legs or her compression "RoboCop legs" or her carved wood modeling legs. She's fully behind the idea that her prosthetic limbs should give her superpowers, not to mention the ability to be even taller when she hits up a party.

Hear Aimee Mullins' take on the future of bionic body parts.

"To Catch a Pr-" (strike that) "To BE a Predator..."

Posted at 5:36 PM on April 21, 2009 by Jeff Horwich (35 Comments)

Beware Explorers Bearing Reporters.
(image via Wikipedia Commons)
A friend of ours in Edina (a western Minneapolis burb, for readers outside the area) called in with an interesting tip this afternoon. We're not normally much of a breaking news blog, but here goes. See what you make of this:

So, there was an attempted child abduction in Edina last week. As a way of advancing...illustrating...dramatizing...the story, our local Fox affiliate KMSP Fox 9 had a provocative journalistic notion:

Cruise the streets in an unmarked SUV after school lets out, and see if young kids walking down the street will respond to you.

Evidently the KMSP news-cruiser/pedophile-mobile was out this afternoon (UPDATE 4/23: Not exactly, we now know. See this new post.) Parents and school officials are just a leeettle upset. The parent who called me said he was trying to get a restraining order against KMSP. Here's part of an email that went to parents this afternoon from Cornelia Elementary School Principal Chris Holden. Nice use of dramatic quotation marks in the first line:

This message details information about a "news" story KMSP Fox 9 will be "creating". Thanks...

Molly Anderson of the Edina Police Department just informed the district that KMSP Fox 9 will be driving around Edina neighborhoods between 2:00-4:30 p.m. today to "ask children for directions." She indicated that the reporter, Trish Van Pilsim will be driving a 2004 silver Ford Explorer or Expedition.

The police indicated while there is nothing illegal with this, they do not endorse this activity.

Please remind our children that they are not to speak with strangers. They should walk, and if necessary, run away from a vehicle if they are asked to get into the car, the car follows, them, etc. They should seek out an adult they know, go to a house they are familiar with, etc. Safety first!

Got a call in to the KMSP newsroom (around 5 pm) to see if they've got a statement on it. Someone is supposed to get back to me.

This raises questions a-plenty. As a parent myself, I can understand the anger. Suppose my kid knows just how terrible a prospect it might be to be approached by a stranger in a car. Being the target of the unmarked KMSP SUV could be really traumatic, terrifying.

Suppose my son doesn't get it, and makes the mistake of talking with the reporter. Lesson learned, I guess. But should he be...punished? Ashamed? Forgiven because someone was just trying to use him in the first place? For parents, this is kind of a no-win situation, and your kid could wind up scared and confused either way.

On the other organizations can do anything within the law to get "the story," however they define that. If kids (in Edina) on the whole are all too willing to engage with a friendly-seeming stranger, perhaps that's newsworthy. I'm no legal expert, and I don't know exactly where the law draws a line here. The streets and sidewalks are public; but I also know that filming underage kids and putting them on the air without their parents' permission is a dicey journalistic and legal proposition.

Thanks to our tipster for the tip.

Thoughts? I'll bet you've got some.

UPDATE 6:45 PM: KMSP has reportedly pulled the story after reaction from parents. In communication with school officials, the station says that they actually only intended to talk with children with their parents' permission. ??? Gotta say, that doesn't make any sense. But there you have it.

UPDATE 4/23: This topic has spawned three more posts so far. Read on.

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