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CHICAGO (CAP) - The Association of American Educators (AAE) has lodged a complaint with the Apple Corporation over its new, fifth-generation iPod Nano, which includes a retractable 2 1/2-inch steel blade inside in the aluminum casing.
"The iPods were bad enough when they just distracted students with violent hip-hop music," explained Karl Sobczak, the association's secretary and assistant superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. "But at least before you couldn't shank someone in the lunchroom with one. Well, not effectively."
Apple is downplaying the concerns, though, saying that the blade - which pops out when the click-wheel is spun rapidly counter-clockwise - is just one of numerous new Nano features, including a video camera, a voice recorder and a pedometer, as well as a GPS app that can locate the nearest coffee bar.
But a source close to the company, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the blade was among several "strange" requests from Apple CEO Steve Jobs after he returned suddenly to the company recently, his head shaved and wearing an Under Armour camo fleece pullover in place of his trademark black turtleneck.
"The knife was just the start. We had to talk him out of the laser and the grappling hook," said the source, noting those will probably debut with the next iPod Touch.
But Jobs defended the new feature. "Everyone knows that blades under three inches are legal in most states," he noted. "And between us, this little device saved my keister more than once during my secret government mission in the Congo.
"Er, I mean sick leave," he added, twitching slightly.
Reaction to the new Nano has been mixed, with Michael Wu, an electronics writer from PC World Magazine, saying he accidentally stabbed himself in the thumb when trying to turn the device's volume down. "Actually the fleshy part between the thumb and the pointer finger," he said. "It stung like the dickens."
He admitted to not being especially handy with tools or sharp objects, but noted that many of the iPod's users would be in the same boat. "You don't see a lot of Nanos on construction sites," he noted. "Um - at least I figure you don't."
On the other hand, Chuck Plansky, Soldier of Fortune magazine's radio transceiver and ammunition critic, gave the device "4 Rounds" out of five.
Ironically, though, the controversy may be moot - most teenagers surveyed say they don't plan to use the blade at all.
"Dude, what do I need a knife for?" asked Josh Elkind, 20, a Tufts University student who made headlines earlier this year when he accidentally inhaled his iPod Shuffle. "I'm just psyched to have the video camera so I can shoot naked movies of my girlfriend.
"Um ... Once I get one," qualified Elkind.