Tag Archives | Identity

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Genders In Cultures Around The World

Via PBS, a fascinating tour around the globe of societies which did not or do not recognize a male-female gender binary:

On nearly every continent, and for all of recorded history, thriving cultures have recognized, revered, and integrated more than two genders. Terms such as transgender and gay are strictly new constructs that assume three things: that there are only two sexes (male/female), as many as two sexualities (gay/straight), and only two genders (man/woman).

Skoptsy were a Christian religious sect with extreme views on sex and gender. The community, discovered in 1771 in Western Russia, believed that Adam and Eve had had halves of the forbidden fruit grafted onto their bodies in the form of testicles and breasts. Therefore, they routinely castrated male children and amputated the breasts of women to return themselves the the state prior to original sin. Sex, vanity, beauty, and lust were considered the root of evil.

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Your Facebook ‘Likes’ Reveal Far More Than You Realize

Algorithmic analysis of what you have “liked” gives everything away—your IQ, personality traits, drug usage, and even whether your parents divorced during your childhood, the Washington Post reports:

A Cambridge University study published Monday shows off how the researchers were able to figure out personal traits of individuals based on what 58,000 Facebook users decided to “like” on sites around the Web.

The researchers found that they could, for example, correctly distinguish between gay and straight men on the site 88 percent of the time by analyzing the TV shows and movies they liked. Similarly, they could differentiate between drug users and non-drug users with about 65 percent accuracy based on their expressed public preferences. The study even included “like” predictors that could tell whether users’ parents had separated when they were young versus whether they had not.

Researcher [said] that they hope this raises users’ awareness about the kind of information they may not realize they’re sharing with a wider audience.

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Brazilian Doctor Arrested For Using Silicone Fingers To Fool Fingerprint-Based Biometric Check-In

Our key-less and password-less future will hinge on being identified via our fingerprints, irises, and vocal tones. The problem is, someone else may have a copy of your finger. Via the BBC:

A Brazilian doctor faces charges of fraud after being caught on camera using silicone fingers to sign in for work for absent colleagues, police say.

Thaune Nunes Ferreira, 29, was arrested on Sunday for using prosthetic fingers to fool the biometric employee attendance device used at the hospital where she works near Sao Paulo. She is accused of covering up the absence of six colleagues. Her lawyer says she was forced into the fraud as she faced losing her job.

Police said she had six silicone fingers with her at the time of her arrest, three of which have already been identified as bearing the fingerprints of co-workers.

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Gates Foundation And Rupert Murdoch Unveil New Database To Track K-12 Students’ Personal Information

Kids’ grades, behavior, medical issues, and more—with their names and social security numbers attached—will be tracked by their public schools, entered in a database, and sold to private companies, in the name of improving educational services, Reuters reports:

The most influential new product [at the SXSWedu conference this week in Austin] may be a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

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Artists Recreates Strangers’ Faces From Discarded DNA On NYC’s Streets

You’ve been leaving yourself everywhere. For her ongoing project Stranger Visions, Heather Dewey-Hagborg culls discarded DNA (in the form of cigarette butts, chewed gum, et cetera) from the New York sidewalk and then uses a 3D printer to create sculpture portraits based on the genetic information. A reminder that we may soon need to guard our DNA tightly?

Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly leave behind, Dewey-Hagborg calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance.

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Americans Are The Most Spied On People In World History

 Washington’s Blog on life in an era of firsts:

The US surveillance regime has more data on the average American than the Stasi ever did on East Germans. The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American. Some also claim that the government is also using facial recognition software and surveillance cameras to track where everyone is going.

Moreover, cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. And – given that your smartphone routinely sends your location information back to Apple or Google – it would be child’s play for the government to track your location that way.

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China To Mandate All Internet Users To Register With Their Real Names

The days of secretly being a dog on the internet may not last much longer. Via the The Next Web:

The Chinese legislature has approved a proposal that includes stipulations for real-name registration requirements for Internet users, state media reported on Friday.

The new rules [are] meant to “enhance protection of personal info online and safeguard public interests.” It’s worth pointing out that the exact timing and the implementation of these regulations have yet to be sketched out.

The most likely solution will be the requirement of showing government-issued identification at the point of sale for Internet service providers, both fixed-line and wireless. Internet cafes will likely feel the squeeze if restrictions force them to keep close track of their clientele, and dissidents will be hurt by the new restrictions, as it will become more difficult for them to operate anonymously online.

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Man With Fake CIA, NASA, Pentagon, Police And Medical IDs and Uniforms Lived In ‘Fantasy World’

Photo: Pasco Sheriff's Office (PD)

A Florida man allegedly posed as all of the above, in a fascinating Walter Mitty-esque existence which unraveled after police searched his home and uncovered his stash of alter-egos, CNN reports:

A man arrested with a stash of fake military, law enforcement and medical paraphernalia — including badges and uniforms — has told investigators he “lives in a fantasy world and he wishes that he were these people,” a police official said Tuesday.

But authorities still aren’t convinced the man, Roy Antigua, 52, is telling the truth. They intend to dig deeper to make sure nothing more sinister was at hand, New Port Richey Police Chief James Steffens said.

The materials found in Antigua’s two homes and Cadillac Escalade included diplomatic license plates and dozens of fake identification cards from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Defense, CIA and NASA. The suspect also had access badges to hospitals around Florida, doctor and nurse scrubs, a respiratory technician badge, police blue lights and access stickers to Coast Guard bases around Florida, Steffens said.

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Ego-Less Basket Monks Of Edo-Era Japan

Wikipedia on the fascinating flute-playing basket monk sect of seventeenth-to-nineteenth century Japan. Across cultures, specific articles of clothing are commonly worn to conceal oneself for purposes of modesty, conformity, or strategic anonymity. However, the concept of the straw basket is more extreme–all identity and ego are removed:

A komusō was a Japanese mendicant monk of the Fukè school of Zen Buddhism. Komusō wore a woven straw hat which covered their head completely looking like an overturned basket or a woven beehive. The concept was that by wearing such a hat they removed their ego. Komusō means ”priest of nothingness” or “monk of emptiness.”

They are also known for playing solo pieces on the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) as a method of attaining enlightenment and as a healing modality. The Japanese government introduced reforms after the Edo period, abolishing the Fukè sect. Records of the musical repertoire survived, and are being revived in the 21st century.

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