What else we're reading

Hysteria resurfaces in Vietnam, advertisers look to target consumers by gender and more!

By Carol Lloyd
Published January 18, 2007 11:00PM (EST)

Associated Press: A second soldier in the Mahmudiya murders is expected to plead guilty to raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her family. Another soldier accused in the case, former private Steven D. Green, was recently revealed to have been diagnosed with "homicidal ideations" three months before the murders took place.

Indo-Asian News Service: Go figure: Hysteria isn't a demystified stigma that reached its distorted glory during the Victorian era and has since disappeared as a valid diagnosis. It's alive and well and plaguing schoolgirls in Vietnam's southern An Giang province. Apparently 50 school girls were hospitalized after fainting due to a mysterious case of "mass hysteria" on Saturday. The explanation? A director of the local medical center is quoted citing a "syndrome that is commonly found among young, sensitive school girls" as the cause of the girls' symptoms. Say what? I have no idea what could make scores of 13-year old schoolgirls spontaneously faint, but according to Marc Feldman, co-author of "Patient or Pretender: Inside the Strange World of Factitious Disorders" even incidents of "unexplainable" mass hysteria, aka "mass sociogenic illness," tend to occur among individuals (male and female) in periods of high stress and anxiety.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer's Microsoft blog: A new technology could change the face of video advertising, using a Web cam to detect the viewer's gender based on facial characteristics, and delivering content targeted at the viewer's assumed gender. This may be the wave of the future for advertising, but it seems like the whole project is an extravagant attempt to broadcast old-fashioned stereotypes. It's also seems like a slippery slope toward a lawsuit. Where's my privacy if I wanna cross-dress? And what will be next, race and ethnicity detectors? And what happens when an intersex person stands in front of the screen -- will the device crack, smoke pouring from its fissures?

Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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