The latest affliction to hit weary residents of Aleppo is written on their faces. Some call it the “Aleppo button”, a welt caused by leishmaniasis, an illness that is sweeping the Syrian city. Transmitted by flies, the parasitic disease arrived along with the thousands of Syrians…
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Vint Cerf, Google’s “Chief Internet Evangelist” and a manlargely considered as one of “the fathers of the Internet,” tellsReuters this week that he disagrees with how the company he worksfor is handling the growing number of personal profiles going up onthe Web.According to Cerf, a former DARPA scientist and a Stanfordassistant professor, Google and other big-name Internet companiesshould not make it mandatory for users to post on websites withtheir real names and faces. In some situations, says Cerf,anonymity is the only option.”Using real names is useful,” he says, “but I don’tthink it should be forced on people, and I don’t think wedo.”Some have argued otherwise, though, and point out recentattempts from Google by way of its Google+ social networkingservice and YouTube as example. On both fronts, customers areencouraged to use their real name and identity while interactingwith others. Speaking to Reuters, Cerf said inner-officediscussions about whether or not to make names mandatory did occur,and he’s satisfied with the outcome.”There was a debate on this subject and it was resolved,”he says. “Our conclusion was that choice is important.”Citing global-crackdowns on users of the Web, however, Cerf sayssituations continue to emerge where people around the world mayfear of being targeted for speaking out online. In an op-edpublished late last year on CNN.com, Cerf said that even attemptsby democratic nations to silence Web users are on the rise.”At Google, we see and feel the dangers of the government-ledNet crackdown,” Cerf wrote in December.Only one month earlier, Google admitted in sharing its bi-annualtransparency report that governments around the world weredemanding the Web service hand over information about users at analarming pace.“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and onetrend has become clear: Government surveillance is on therise,” Google acknowledged in November. According to thatreport, the US government filed more than 16,000 requests for userdata from Google on as many as 7,969 individual accounts betweenjust January and June of 2012. When they published theirend-of-the-year findings, Google reported that the United Statesled the world in requests. The corporation was mostly subpoenaedfor personal information, and claims to have honored those pleasaround 88 percent of the time.But when court orders can’t be obtained, it’s still easy to findout information about a person based solely on their Internet use.With Google and Facebook dominating Web traffic worldwide,requiring users to act as their real-life selves on the Web couldmean that governments will have an easier time than ever monitoringpeople.That isn’t to say, adds Cerf, that an anonymous-only Internet isthe way to go. “Anonymity and pseudonymity are perfectlyreasonable under some situations,” he tells Reuters, “butthere are cases where in the transactions both parties really needto know who are we talking to. So what I’m looking for is not thatwe shut down anonymity, but rather that we offer an option whenneeded that can strongly authenticate who the parties are.”Cerf’s frank remarks come in spite of insistence from criticsthat Google is only doing harm to the privacy of its customers. In2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt defended his company’s policies toCNBC, saying, “If you have something that you don’t want anyoneto know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the firstplace.” … Read More
Following up the November announcement to “open the show up ethnically” on ”Downton Abbey,” casting notes obtained by the Sun today reveal that the show has settled upon casting a black actor to play a jazz musician Jack Ross in the upcoming season.The Sun reports:”Casting notes were sent out to actors’ agents earlier this month. They describe Ross as “Male, 25-30. A musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s. ‘He’s black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma.’ “Whoever lands the role should ‘ideally be able to sing brilliantly’. The notes add: ‘Overall he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor.’ Jack Ross will play a key part in the fourth series of the hit TV saga alongside a string of other fresh faces.”Continue Reading… … Read More
Dating sites like OKCupid talk up their math-based matchmaking systems, but no one thinks a few algorithms and questionnaires can foment love. Sure, it’s nice when your partner is as into “A Song of Ice and Fire” as you are. But shared hobbies and interests can’t predict love, chemistry, or even if you can tolerate hanging out with someone for more than five minutes .
With the launch of Crazy Blind Date, an app that randomly sets users up based on demographic information, OKCupid seems to be throwing its hands up and admitting that when it comes to finding love, shared tastes can only take you so far. The app works like this: you pick a time and a location, and OKCupid pulls up a list of potential dates in the area, along with their first names, ages, and scrambled photos of their faces. You pick one, and let Eros (or booze) do the rest.
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Far from London’s beaten tourist track, a group of visitors is staring keenly at the graffiti-covered gates to an abandoned construction site. Their guide, Karim Samuels, points out the black-and-white images of two young faces, and behind them, a piece of street art by Britain’s most…
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Is there a hidden, transgender voting bloc ripe for a political awakening?
At least one Thai politician seems to think so.
“Our modern world increasingly accepts varied genders… Bangkok must be a city that understands sexual differences, not just accepting different lifestyles … it must be a friend to every difference.”
So goes the latest campaign ad for Pongsapat Pongcharoen, a U.S.-educated police general. Polls suggest he’ll soon become Bangkok’s next governor.
Slick, minimal and set to a twinkly backbeat, the video showcases a stream of cheerful faces. Many of them belong to “kathoeys,” male-to-female transgender Thais more commonly known by a cheaper term: ladyboys.
Is this the dawn of a new trend: courting the transgender vote?
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The Super Bowl, professional sports’ highest holy day, is again upon us. As fans paint their faces and torsos, pile on licensed apparel, and quixotically arrange beer cans in the shape of team logos, the question must, again, be asked: Why exactly do we do this for our teams?
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