USC Annenberg Online Journalism ReviewUSC

New Faces of 2004, Watching the Watchers, Harvard's Secret Court

New Faces of 2004?

The world's first full-face transplant may be only 18 months away, says Emma Young.

Writing in New Scientist, Young reports that recent advances in immunosuppressants and microsurgery may enable plastic surgeons to graft the face of a recently deceased person -- "complete with lips, chin, ears, nose, eight major blood vessels and even some bone" -- onto a patient whose features have been lost to severe burns or facial cancer.  The procedure would take at least 10 hours, adds Jo Revill in The Observer.

Although surgeons say the recipient of a new face would not resemble its previous owner, people aren't exactly lining up to donate their features.  A recent survey by British plastic surgeon Peter Butler revealed that "while some [respondents] would be willing to receive a face transplant, none would be prepared to donate their own face," writes Young.  "Butler hopes that if full details of the procedure and its medical need are made clear, potential donors might be able to overcome their initial revulsion."

Could this be a potential recipient?  Michael Jackson "probably should have stopped three or four noses ago," a plastic surgeon tells L.A. Times staffer Booth Moore.  The King of Pop's nose appears to require reconstruction.


Watching the Watchers

On December 24, "the shot heard around the world will be that of clicking cameras," writes Ronald Deibert.

Deibert, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, has declared December 24 to be "World Sousveillance Day," writes Patrick Di Justo in Wired.  While "surveillance" means to view from above, "sousveillance" means to view from below, says Di Justo; participants in the worldwide event will protest the surveillance of ordinary citizens by donning disguises and photographing the security cameras that track their every move through malls and public spaces.

"Armed with their own photographic or videographic cameras and recording devices, and shielded with masks or disguises, ordinary citizens will dish out some accountability while remaining anonymous to the massive proliferation of face tracking surveillance," notes a manifesto outlining the event.   Security officials who confront the masked photographers will lose their sense of invulnerable anonymity, suggests Deibert.  "Remember when the curtains part and the Wizard of Oz is revealed for what he really is? Same deal."

Deibert's "sousveillance" event (which could use a better name) is the latest example of creative anti-surveillance activism.  MIT Media Lab graduate Steve Mann has engaged in some fascinating and surreal protests; New York's Surveillance Camera Players are also well worth checking out.


Short Takes

Prevention Is Not Enough
More must be done to treat AIDS sufferers worldwide, writes Bill Clinton in a New York Times Op-Ed published on World AIDS Day yesterday.

Harvard's Secret Court
A confidential tribunal dedicated itself to rooting out and expelling a group of gay students in 1920, says the Associated Press; the story was first reported (at great length) by The Harvard Crimson.

Hand Washing, Hand Wringing
Some New Yorkers feel guilty and uncomfortable in the presence of restroom attendants, reveals Eric Asimov in The New York Times.

All His Clients Have Died
A 91-year-old Florida lawyer had a good reason to retire, reports the AP.

My TiVo Thinks I'm Gay
Who said modern living was easy?

Want more links? The Spike Report regularly follows links from these useful daily Weblogs: Jim Romenesko's MediaNews and The Obscure Store offer highlights in the areas of news, features and media gossip; Arts Journal and Arts & Letters Daily cover the arts and culture beat; the Utne Web Watch Daily cherry-picks the alternative press; E-Media Tidbits and the UK Guardian weblog find consistently interesting selections; Metafilter, Boing Boing and Eliot Gelwan's Follow Me Here offer an eclectic mix of political, technical, scientific and general-interest items.

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