Showing posts with label Biology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biology. Show all posts

November 21, 2016

“Gender is a Biological Accident” (Indian Gay Activist)


Harish, gay activist

It’s International Men’s Day. What does that mean? What do we celebrate? Masculinity? Machoism? The stache? The muscles? Or the sexual orientation…?
Harish Iyer, Director and Strategic Partner at the Humane Society International/India, and a renowned activist for LGBTQ rights in the country, decided to speak to us this Men’s Day and his words will leave you with enough to ponder over.

“Gender is nothing but a biological accident,” says Harish who would have been just as happy had he been a woman, or a transgender. “My gender is always perceived as the tormentor, the bread-winner, the un-emotive. Masculinity is not a mustache that you grow, the muscles you develop, the abs or the way men fuck; it is about equality.”

Harish is one of the most well known men who have always spearheaded any movement or revolution for those who cannot speak for themselves—be it a member of the LGBTQ community, the animals, or the people who don’t have a voice. He has been the guest speaker for world renowned talks and on television to voice his opinions and make a difference in whichever way he can. As someone who is from the LGBTQ community (http://www.mensxp.com/special-features/today/33320-in-a-new-progressive-move-kerala-might-open-india-s-first-residential-school-for-transgenders.html) in India, Harish knows exactly what it is like to be a man of different sexual orientation; to be gay and proud about it. “It was my friend Sheetal Kher, wife of Kailash Kher, who pulled me out of the closet,” says Harish. “Sheetal did a college journalism profile on me and outed me.”

Speaking about explaining to his family, Harish says, “I told my mother I was willing to marry a woman, but asked if she would willingly marry her daughter to a gay guy.” Harish, like countless other men in our country, was also subject to criticism and social judgment. But, he believes it to be because people are curious. “There have been relatives who wanted me to get married and some nosy neighbours. I sarcastically tell them I can marry their daughter and divorce her if it doesn’t work out.” It pays to have a sense of humour when you’re different from the pack. Ask anyone who doesn’t run the rat race; they’ll agree. “I think there is ingrained misogyny in many of our Indian practices, most of which are patriarchal,” he opines.

According to Harish, there needs to be more liberty for people who want to come out openly. “We should not have to prove time and again that we are just like everyone else who is part of society,” he reasons. “The bisexual community is the most invisible in society.

They face prejudice in the LGBT community and also the heterosexual community,” Harish explains. “Trans people face a lot of discrimination, mostly due to people’s ignorance and refusal to study issues in detail. All this gets augmented, when you also are a person of color, caste, are a woman.” And while society has always been rather vague about the LGBTQ community as a whole, Harish sees hope. “While some members of society see us as ‘diseased and ‘perverted’, a lot of them also see us as creative and dependable individuals which is true.” He agrees that it’s not always easy to talk about it.

 We need to keep talking—make the invisible visible and bring issues to the forefront, he says. “It will get easier when we speak at times when it is most challenging to do so.” As for his own sense of self, Harish has never let the words of others affect his being in any way whatsoever. “Living your life truly and unabashedly is the truest form of activism,” he quips in a matter-of-fact tone.
And his message to men on International Men’s Day is simple.

“Yes, we have been privileged. You don’t need to step out and offer your seats to women to be considered a man. Women need no charity; only equality. Also some men are assholes; and some women label all men as that. Learn to give a rat’s left testicle to both of them.”








August 29, 2013

First Human to Human Brain Interface (Now I see What You see:)


Researcher Controls Colleague's Motions in First Human Brain-To-Brain Interface

Aug. 27, 2013 — University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of the UW campus, causing Stocco's finger to move on a keyboard.
While researchers at Duke University have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated it between a human and a rat, Rao and Stocco believe this is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.
"The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains," Stocco said. "We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain."
The researchers captured the full demonstration on video recorded in both labs. The version available at the end of this story has been edited for length.
Rao, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, has been working on brain-computer interfacing (BCI) in his lab for more than 10 years and just published a textbook on the subject. In 2011, spurred by the rapid advances in BCI technology, he believed he could demonstrate the concept of human brain-to-brain interfacing. So he partnered with Stocco, a UW research assistant professor in psychology at the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.
On Aug. 12, Rao sat in his lab wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain. Stocco was in his lab across campus wearing a purple swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that was placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.
The team had a Skype connection set up so the two labs could coordinate, though neither Rao nor Stocco could see the Skype screens.
Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the "fire" button. Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who wore noise-canceling earbuds and wasn't looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon. Stocco compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of a nervous tic.
"It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain," Rao said. "This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains."
The technologies used by the researchers for recording and stimulating the brain are both well-known. Electroencephalography, or EEG, is routinely used by clinicians and researchers to record brain activity noninvasively from the scalp. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a noninvasive way of delivering stimulation to the brain to elicit a response. Its effect depends on where the coil is placed; in this case, it was placed directly over the brain region that controls a person's right hand. By activating these neurons, the stimulation convinced the brain that it needed to move the right hand.
Computer science and engineering undergraduates Matthew Bryan, Bryan Djunaedi, Joseph Wu and Alex Dadgar, along with bioengineering graduate student Dev Sarma, wrote the computer code for the project, translating Rao's brain signals into a command for Stocco's brain.
"Brain-computer interface is something people have been talking about for a long, long time," said Chantel Prat, assistant professor in psychology at the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, and Stocco's wife and research partner who helped conduct the experiment. "We plugged a brain into the most complex computer anyone has ever studied, and that is another brain."
At first blush, this breakthrough brings to mind all kinds of science fiction scenarios. Stocco jokingly referred to it as a "Vulcan mind meld." But Rao cautioned this technology only reads certain kinds of simple brain signals, not a person's thoughts. And it doesn't give anyone the ability to control your actions against your will.
Both researchers were in the lab wearing highly specialized equipment and under ideal conditions. They also had to obtain and follow a stringent set of international human-subject testing rules to conduct the demonstration.
"I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology," Prat said. "There's no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation."
Stocco said years from now the technology could be used, for example, by someone on the ground to help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated. Or a person with disabilities could communicate his or her wish, say, for food or water. The brain signals from one person to another would work even if they didn't speak the same language.
Rao and Stocco next plan to conduct an experiment that would transmit more complex information from one brain to the other. If that works, they then will conduct the experiment on a larger pool of subjects.
Their research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the UW, the U.S. Army Research Office and the National Institutes of Health.
 This is the first step of something we only see at the movies

University of Washington University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao, left, plays a computer game with his mind. Across campus, researcher Andrea Stocco, right, wears a magnetic stimulation coil over the left motor cortex region of his brain. Stocco’s right index finger moved involuntarily to hit the “fire” button as part of the first human brain-to-brain interface demonstration. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington)

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided byUniversity of Washington. The original article was written by Doree Armstrong and Michelle Ma.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

 APA

 MLA
University of Washington (2013, August 27). Researcher controls colleague's motions in first human brain-to-brain interface. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2013/08/130827122713.htm
Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

June 9, 2013

66 Year Old Man is Confirmed as a Woman by x-Ray

Im going to tell you a true story that just happened to a 66 year old Chinese man. This man went to the hospital (in China, Hospitals are for emergencies not check ups and so are Doctors) because of an abdominal pain.
Gray3.pngTo everyones shock! after x-rays the Doctors discovered that the pain was coming from the ovaries. I don’t know how much biology you remember, but I was shock! myself that I was able to remember that ovaries are only in females. You see I use the word “cojones” every time I get the opportunity in which it fits and cojones mean balls. Opposite of balls are Ovaries. So right away I knew there was a problem. These woman had been living as a man for 66 years. Now I would like to know what the religious right know it all, knows about a man that even has a beard but also has ovaries which makes him a woman without a doubt. Nature is not the way we wanted to be but is the way it is! These things are not freaks of nature but again if you know a little biology you know that a zygote form into a fetus but you need ovaries for that because that’s where the eggs are deposited for the sperm to do it’s job.

What Im telling you is that is a complicated process and originally we are non gender specific. It is latter on that nature play it's game and decides which way we are going to go. The process can go all the way without a hitch but since these factory makes so may copies that sometime the copies or final product is not the same as the others. Therefore you can get a chinese woman that looks like man even has a beard but it is a woman. It has the internal equipment which is what make us what we are. We used to go by the external looking and people that forget that we can reproduce a 3D body with ALL it’s parts so we at this time I would say:  It is safe to say “Stop judging by the external” we know better, we have the tools, the technology, to do better.

Had this woman would have had an x-ray of that particular area earlier in life she would have learn her true identity. The law of averages tell us that if there is one, guess what? There are more particularly in a country of “billion.” Here in the USA we are a country of Millions but still big enough to have all of those things happen in quantities. We do a lot of non gender specific people in this country and around the world.

No, it makes no sense for the people making money out of changing people sexualities or so they say by hitting them over the head and repeating what they want them to be.  If you did that to that Chinese woman she would still have ovaries, she would still be a woman no matter how long her beard would be.

Yes, of coarse you know my message here. You know I am also referring to people that are born with a particular sexuality or attraction to a particular sex to be with, because as mammals we do partner in life. These happens with other species but particularly with mammals.

This information appeared in the South China Post and was reported to the Hong Kong Medical Journal 
 The pain was coming from the abdomen and she had a swollen stomach. It was discovered she also had cyst like sometimes women get in their ovaries (Ovarian Cancer is a well known condition).

The newspaper reported this was one of six past documented cases in which a patient had both Turner Syndrome and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. (Those words I got from the newspaper account, I didn’t know what they meant until I looked them up, so don’t feel bad ) and this is what I found:

***Women considered 'normal' have two complete X chromosomes.
Women with Turner Syndrome, however, are missing part or all of one of those chromosomes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
As a result, adult women with Turner Syndrome don't develop as much as other women after puberty. They might have small breasts and as in this case, they often can't have children.
About one of every 2,000 females born have the condition, according to the library of medicine.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia affects a person's ability to produce hormones, including those that make us appear male or female, according to the Mayo Clinic.***
By the way the patient will continue t identify as a man according to the newspaper story (I would too).


 Adam Gonzalez, Publisher adamfoxie*
zygote pic by wikipedia. Sray pic from
chinese newspaper.

February 5, 2013

How Active is a Brain in a Coma?





Positron emission tomography (PET) records electrical activity inside the brain. These PET scans show what happens inside the brain when it is resting and when it is stimulated by words and by music. The red areas indicate concentrations of brain activity. Notice how language and music appear to produce responses in opposite sides of the brain. Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis
A new type of brain scan is giving neurologists insight into what is happening in the brains of patients who appear to be in comas.
When doctors recently tested former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon brain with a functional MRI, they found "robust" brain activity when he was shown pictures of his family and heard his son’s voice. A stroke and brain hemorrhage left Sharon in a coma seven years ago.
While the findings don’t change the prognosis of many patients, doctors are excited because the technology could foster a primitive form of communication with patients who are minimally conscious. It could also help prevent and correct misdiagnosis of patients who appear to be in comas, but are actually in a "locked-in" state.

"It’s like watching the top of the ocean and thinking you can understand what goes on under the waves," said Dr. Peter Nakaji, a neurosurgeon at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, of the bedside techniques commonly used in clinics. He and others are hopeful that new techniques could provide a glimpse into the deeper realms of the brain.
The fMRI technology has been used in brain mapping research since the early 1990s, helping detect the onset of Alzheimer's and providing key information to brain surgeons about where to operate, but researchers in the United Kingdom and Belgium made a breakthrough discovery by applying the technology to patients who could not communicate at the bedside.
Knowing that 40 percent of patients with disorders of consciousness are misdiagnosed, the researchers designed an experiment to see if they could learn more about how their subjects’ brains were functioning. When 54 patients -- in vegetative or minimally conscious states  -- were asked to imagine hitting a tennis ball, the appropriate area lit up on the image of the brains of five of them. One of the patients was able to use the technique to answer yes or no questions. The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2010.
What actually goes on in the brains of patients with disorders of consciousness depends on where they fall on the spectrum of unconsciousness, although there is some grey area in the terminology of coma vs. vegetative state vs. minimally conscious

December 19, 2012

When Nature Goofs-Strange Birthmarks

http://www.oddee.com
At first glance, this man looks like he is part-man, part-wolf, but look closely and you will see that it is actually a giant birthmark and body hair. Zhang Hongming from Chongqing, south-eastern China, is nicknamed "Chimpanzee." He appealed to doctors for help in getting rid of the thick black hair that covers part of his body.

The man has a rare birthmark that also covers a large part of his body. Such birthmarks are seen on no more than 3 percent of the world's population. (Link)



For two-year-old Connie Lloyd, there was nothing amusing about having a bright red "clown's nose." Born with a benign tumor that grew to cover her nose, she suffered cruel taunts and name-calling and was told that the rare condition could not be cured. However, the shy little girl has a reason to smile at last after surgeons defied the odds and left her with a "nose like mum's." (Link)



A young lad branded "turtle boy" because of a huge shell-like growth on his body is finally free of the birthmark thanks to a British surgeon. Little Didier Montalvo suffered from Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, which meant a mole grew so large that it almost covered his entire back.

The six-year-old from Colombia was teased and banned from going to school because of the growth.

Locals in his village feared that he had been cursed by evil forces because he was conceived during an eclipse. Also, his mum, Luz, could not afford to pay for surgery to help rid her son of the birthmark blighting his life. However, when plastic surgeon Neil Bulstrode, from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, heard about the boy's plight, he and his team flew to Bogotá to operate on him.

They eventually managed to remove the mole with a series of skin grafts.
(Link)
Doctors have treated a young boy with a large birthmark on his face… by implanting horns in his forehead. George Ashman, 5, was born with a bright red blemish on his forehead and his mother Karen, 33, feared he would endure a lifetime of bullying. So, when he was four he underwent a surgical procedure to stretch the ‘normal' skin on his forehead so the birthmark could be removed and covered with the new unblemished tissue.

Doctors inserted two tissue expanders under the skin, which gradually inflated so they looked like two perfect devil's horns. After four months the implants were removed and the blemish was cut out, allowing the new skin to be stitched together, leaving just a small Harry Potter-style scar on George's forehead.

During the four months when he had the horns, George was subjected to cruel taunts from passers-by.
(Via)



A six-year-old girl has baffled medics after her skin apparently turned her into "cow hide" girl. Until just a few months ago, Li Xiaoyuan had just a small birthmark on her back.

However, the hairy hide has apparently grown until it now spreads over her entire back and is starting to grow on her arms and face.

Surgeon Dr. Lou Zhongquan of Zhaoqing City Dermatological Hospital believes that the youngster may be suffering from a rare hereditary disease that has sent normal moles out of control.
(Link)



A 16g tragus on a birthmark. Piercing by Cale Belford (Rurekk) @ Anchors Away Tattoo. (Link)



An eight-year-old Chinese boy who has a large birthmark covering one side of his face is going to receive free surgery to remove it. An Qi was born with the large birthmark, which covers the right side of his face. As he has grown older the mark has grown further and has also grown thick black hair. Min Yi Plastic SurgeryHospital in Changchun has now agreed to waive its treatment fee. Zheng Xiaoqin, president of the hospital, said it's rare to have such a large hairy mole on the face and An's treatment will be in four stages. (Link)



In 2010, a "Holy Cow" Moses was born at a dairy farm in Sterling, Connecticut. Moses was born with a unique "birthmark" that looks like a white cross on its forehead. (Link)



This puppy was born in Japan with a large, clear, love-heart-shaped pattern in his coatThe Chihuahua was born in May 2008 as one of a litter belonging to a breeder. Shop owner Emiko Sakurada said it was the first time a puppy with the marks had been born out of a thousand she had bred. She had no plans to sell the puppy, which has been named "Heart-kun." The long-coated male Chihuahua puppy was born in Odate, Northern Japan. (Link)

December 4, 2012

Court Strikes Down Louisiana's Creationist Voucher Program


A Louisiana judge struck down on Friday Governor Bobby Jindal's (R) creationist voucher program, which would have channeled millions in public money to some of the state's private educational institutions that teach anti-evolution theories — reported Reuters
But while State District Judge Tim Kelley ruled the voucher program unconstitutional, he didn't order to stop it just yet. This will permit that about 5,000 students, who are currently receiving vouchers that cover tuition and fees at private and parochial schools will continue with their religion-oriented education. 
Jindal, the program's champion, called the ruling "wrong-headed" and "a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education." He also vowed to appeal, while John White, Louisiana's superintendent of education, said, "we are optimistic this decision will be reversed." 
Governor Jindal, who was mentioned as a potential running mate for the failed presidential bid of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and is also touted as one of the 2016 potential Republican presidential hopefuls, has been raising his national profile by calling on the GOP to be more inclusive with immigrants. 
However, his creationism stance seems to be in tune with that of another potential GOP presidential hopeful Florida junior Senator and Tea Party darling Marco Rubio who recently stepped into controversy after claiming not knowing how old the Earth is. 


Background:
Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) – Creationism cannot be taught in science classes
In 1982 the Louisiana state legislature passed the “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act”, which required that when evolution was taught in a public school, “creationism science” must be taught as well. Lower courts ruled against Louisiana citing that the actual purpose of “creation science” was to promote a specific religious doctrine. The State of Louisiana appealed to the Supreme Court.

In 1987, in a 7-2 to vote, the Act was ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found that although the Louisiana legislature claimed the Act protected academic freedom, it actually limited a teacher’s ability to decide what scientific principles to teach.


November 28, 2012

A Few Touchy Facts About a Male’s Body



In Scared Sh*tless: 1,003 More Facts That Will Scare The Shit Out Of You, Cary McNeal offers a guided tour of little known facts that will make you grin and grimace in the same instant. No section is more devastating to the male psyche than the brutal facts about male genitals. Below are ten examples of facts McNeal has uncovered that will cause the manliest part of your anatomy to shrink back into your body like a turtle ducking into its shell.
Fact 895: Smoking can shrink a man's penis by up to a centimeter.

Fact 898: Congenital hypoplasia occurs when the penile glands are stuck directly to the pubic bone, resulting in a very small penis.
Fact 899: Despite what men might claim, only 15 percent have a penis longer than seven inches. Only 3 percent have a penis more than eight inches long.
Fact 901: Handyman Charles Lennon has suffered through a perpetual erection since being fitted with a steel penis implant in 1996.
Fact 907: The most common cause of penile rupture is vigorous masturbation.
Fact 915: One method of surgical penis enlargement is to cut the suspensory ligament that holds the root of the penis up inside the pelvis. This can only add an inch or so to your penis length, and carries the risk of impotence.
Fact 929: The nerves in testicles are connected to the abdomen, another reason why force to the area causes so much pain, and why that pain is felt in the stomach.
Fact 934: Testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of twenty and thirty-nine.
Fact 940: Hitler and Napoleon each had only one testicle.
Fact 943: During mating with the queen bee, the male drone's genitals explode and snap off inside the queen.
 Scared Sh*tless by Cary McNeal at CaryMcNeal.com

July 24, 2012

German Not Cutting a Piece of your junk Debate Arriving in UK and Austria

Circumcision debate (Illustration) Photo: Visual Photos
A court case in Cologne, Germany, has held that circumcision, carried out for religious — as opposed to medical — reasons, is potentially harmful. The decision has, however, been fiercely opposed by religious interests, and this has put pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The (UK) Secular Medical Forum (SMF), associated with the National Secular Society, has been campaigning against this practice for over two years, raising the matter for example with the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council. Quite separately, the Royal Dutch Medical Association and associated bodies have concluded — like the court — that infant circumcision “can be harmful and that it violates the boy’s human rights to autonomy and physical integrity”.
The pressure on Mrs Merkel has been led by Jewish campaigners who have gone so far as to suggest that it is the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust, something particularly sensitive in Germany. The popular press has also strongly opposed the court decision, whereas there is wide public support for the ruling.
Mrs Merkel’s instinct has been to bow to the pressure, and she has been quoted as suggesting that the decision will lead to Germany being regarded as “a laughing stock”. She has vowed to bring forward legislation to protect Jewish and Muslim communities’ rights to circumcision.
The SMF’s chairman, Dr Antony Lempert, has written to Chancellor Merkel (pdf) to dissuade her from such action: “As the leader of a democracy that supports child welfare, we urge you to resist the strong pressure being brought to bear on you to overturn this laudable decision. The judgment is a common-sense verdict reflecting the expansion of human rights in the 21st century and the necessary restrictions that organised groups must have on their rights to practise their beliefs.
“The lesson from the 20th century is not that groups of stronger people should be able to impose surgically their views on groups of weaker people to satisfy their own ideology or theology, but that all people deserve society’s protection from cradle to grave. That the first ruling of this kind in Europe should happen in Germany is something of which you can justly be proud.”
The SMF is convinced that the court’s decision was in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This is a UN Human Rights treaty which Germany, along with another 166 states, has undertaken to uphold.
The NSS’s Keith Porteous Wood added: “We hope that the Chancellor has thought through carefully the implications of overriding a court decision, by seemingly reacting to what she regards as populist demands. She may find that in practice this is far more difficult than she imagined. We believe that there are strong human rights arguments to support the court’s stance. Human Rights are primarily to protect individuals, and few individuals could be more vulnerable than babies, against the overbearing power of groups. If she seeks to change the law to override the court’s decision, she is doing the very opposite: giving groups power over vulnerable individuals. And she is also going to find it very difficult to find wording which permits male genital mutilation, without also permitting female genital mutilation (fgm).”
The SMF’s letter to Chancellor Merkel was referred to in a Reuters report.

Austria:
A furor over circumcision in Germany reached neighbouring Austria on Tuesday as a state governor advised doctors against performing the procedure, even when it is on religious grounds.
Markus Wallner, centre-right state premier of Vorarlberg, said the instructions followed a controversial June ruling by a court in the German city of Cologne that equated circumcision of young boys with grievous bodily harm.
That verdict provoked uproar from religious and political leaders in Israel as well as Muslim countries, with Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly saying it risked making Germany a “laughing stock”.
Wallner’s move meanwhile was slammed as an “attack on religious freedom” by Fuat Sanac, head of the Islamic Community of Austria (IGGiOe), according to comments due to be published in Wednesday’s Der Standard daily.
The move “is not worthy of Austria”, Sanac said, calling circumcision “a tradition going back thousands of years”. Oskar Deutsch, the head of Vienna’s Jewish Community, said that the practice was “protected by the constitution”.


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July 10, 2012

Extreme Altering Body Changers


Photo by Giulio Sciorio
As a pulsating techno beat booms inside a hotel ballroom in downtown Miami, dozens of spectators watch a petite redheaded MC wearing green-and-black striped tights, a lace corset, and a fake carnival barker's mustache. "Now we have Coco!" she bellows into a mike. "The big baby!"
The crowd hoots and whistles as Coco Stabs saunters onto the stage. His bushy blond hair is pulled into tight buns, Björk-style. The blush on his cheeks softens his imposing 350-pound, six-foot-three frame. His gut hangs over white-and-green boxers, and a baby's bib covers the Sacred Heart of Jesus and eagle's wings inked on his broad chest. On his left hand, an outline of brass knuckles rises from his flesh thanks to a subdermal implant, a type of jewelry surgically placed beneath the skin.
Daze is a fixture at fetish parties, tattoo conventions, and porn expos.
Giulio Sciorio
Daze is a fixture at fetish parties, tattoo conventions, and porn expos.
Coco Stabs has been pushing the limits of body modification since 2001.
Eric Madrid
Coco Stabs has been pushing the limits of body modification since 2001.

 Coco turns briefly to reveal four stainless-steel clamps pinching through the skin between his massive shoulder blades. Two friends, both heavily tattooed, grab a winch and attach it to Coco's back.

The MC shouts, "This is not your normal-size man! It will not take one, but two, people to pull this big baby up!"
Applause drowns out the house track. Coco's compatriots pull on a rope, lifting him four feet off the ground. The skin on his back stretches like saltwater taffy from the Atlantic City boardwalk. Thin streams of blood trickle from the puncture points. Coco bobs his head to the music while the MC's assistant, a pretty young woman in a pink tutu, spins him with a cane.
The performance, part of a TattooLaPalooza expo, offers a rare local glimpse into a culture that's booming in the underground around the country but remains a fringe in Miami-Dade. Suspension — hanging in the air by steel hooks implanted in flesh — is just one part of a scene that goes way beyond ink-jobs and nose rings. Adherents stretch earlobes into giant doughnut holes, pierce their backs to create skin corsets, brand their flesh, and carve out decorative scars.
Miami-Dade has long been a hotbed of tattooing culture, with its 122 parlors nearly equal to the number in Broward and West Palm combined (where 144 are registered). The hit reality showMiami Ink filmed for six years at Love Hate Tattoos in the heart of South Beach, and thousands of dollars are spent on tattoos and piercings every weekend.
But extreme body modifiers such as Coco remain part of a true underground in the Magic City. While Broward's scene has flourished by comparison — with regular suspension parties in Fort Lauderdale at clubs like the Green Room — Dade's population of kids born to conservative Latin American families often struggles for acceptance. And throughout the Sunshine State, the scene is hindered by laws against some of the bolder procedures — including subdermal implants, like Coco's brass knuckles.
"I hate it," Coco's mom, Rocio Alvear, says of her 32-year-old son's lifestyle. "His father and I have always been clean-cut and presentable. My son will never be able to get a normal job the way he looks."
Pull back the curtain, though, and Dade is full of true believers willing to risk social stigma and legal action to pursue their passion. Guys like Coco put on shows while suspended from their backs. Others, like a Hialeah native who calls himself "Daze," ink themselves from head to toe. Even more alien are deep thinkers such as Michael Alberta, a Miami Beach artist and piercer who adheres to a philosophy called "transhumanism" that preaches melding bodies with the latest technology.
Why do they pour their energy into altering their bodies in such extreme ways — especially in an image-obsessed town that mostly sees their brand of body fixation as freakish?
The answers are as varied as the tats running up and down Coco Stabs's chest.


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