Bruce Sterling on Mon, 11 Mar 2002 03:30:41 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> FW: Headless Reporter Continues Work

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From: "futurefeedforward" <>
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 12:34:23 -0800
To: <>
Subject: Headless Reporter Continues Work

March 4, 2005

Headless Reporter Continues Work

NEW YORK--ABC news magazine "20/20" reporter John Stossel, accidentally
decapitated late last month while shooting a segment "debunking the myth
of wind power," returns to the air Wednesday in a special interview with
20/20 anchor Barbara Walters.  "It's really an amazing story," explains
Walters. "Most people wouldn't even survive decapitation, let alone have
the guts, the determination, to keep doing their jobs.  It's a real
triumph of the human spirit."

    Injured during the filming of "Oil is Good Food," a series of reports
looking skeptically at the promise of "alternative energy," Stossel was
struck when the 73-foot fiberglass blade of a wind turbine began to rotate
unexpectedly.  "I've never seen anything like it," recalls ABC cameraman
Josh Eager.  "John wanted to get a shot on this platform right in front of
the blades there, just to dramatize that, you know, the wind isn't always
blowing enough to turn the things and make power when Wham! it just took
his head right off.  I never did see where it landed."

    Emergency personnel responding to the accident were astounded to find
that, despite the loss of a significant amount of blood, Stossel appeared
conscious and responsive.  "It was really the quick thinking of the camera
crew that saved him," noted a paramedic on the scene.  "Somebody had some
training and new how to tie off the major arteries.  That's what kept him

    Doctors at a nearby Madison, Wisconsin hospital responded quickly to
the unusual injury with a novel surgical procedure.  "I had never before
seen a survivor of decapitation, so we all had questions about how to
proceed," explains Dr. Margery Welppe, leader of the surgical team.  "My
training lead me to consider reattachment, but no head had been recovered.  
There also seemed no real possibility of a transplant of any sort, so we
improvised, closing the vascular circuits and trying to close the neck as
best we could."

    Medical explanation for Stossel's survival remains vague and
uncertain, though several experts point to the reporter's "enteric nervous
system" or "gut brain" as the possible source of his continued vitality.

    The enteric system, a complex network of nerves located in and around
the intestines of all mammals and long thought to control digestive
processes, is known to make use of nearly all of the neuronal processes
previously thought exclusive to the brain.  "It's true that the enteric
system is much more complex that has been traditionally thought," explains
Professor Hillary Rind of the Harvard Medical School.  "But, at least
until now, nobody imagined it capable of assuming responsibility for the
higher order functions of personality and rational thought."

    Talking to reporters through a vocoder linked to special "contact
microphones" affixed to his neck, Stossel explained his reasons for
returning to work so quickly after such a traumatic injury:  "The wool is
being pulled over our eyes by so-called 'environmentalist' do-gooders and
I'm determined to put a stop to it.  Did you know that wind power is
millions of times more wasteful than oil or coal?  Do you know how much
wind just goes to waste without producing one volt?  People talk all about
the dangers of nuclear power, but what about the dangers of solar power?  
The sun is responsible for tens of thousands of cases of skin cancer each
year. How much cancer do you think has been linked to nuclear power?"

    Responding angrily to questions about his decision to forego use of a
prosthetic head, Stossel noted that he felt no embarrassment about being
headless and that colleagues at ABC agreed that he has done some of his
best work in years since the accident:  "Do I wish it hadn't happened?
Sure.  Am I any less of a reporter just because I haven't got a head?  No


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