My tribe is not your tribe

I watched an episode of BBC series "The Human Animal" named "The Human ZOO" last night. The author and presenter -- Desmond Morris talks about the our ancient habits and how they reflect in the modern life. We need to belong to a smaller tribe, and thus living in large cities is very unnatural. He points out how we develop our own tribes, that are formed by a group of people who surround us, our family, and friends. These people do not necessarily need to know each other, they just belong to your own unique tribe. Every person has her/his own tribe, and this is how we survive in the flood of people that live around us.

The author did an interesting experiment, where he would put a person on the ground and observe what others do about it. In the city, people look, maybe even slow down, but definitely keep walking past the possibly suffering individual that is laying motionless on the ground. In the village, however... the person is immediately surrounded by the locals (tourists still keep passing by the person as if it was a tree) and offered help.

That made me realize how vulnerable we really are. No one is watching over us when we walk around alone even during a daylight, since you are just another tree in the forest of people who everyone tries to avoid as they are making their way though crowded streets of the city.

Why do then people want to live in the cities? I think the answer is the number of options city can offer to you: choice of educational facilities, art museums, nightlife, shopping, dining... all of this makes us want to live in the city. But we loose the comfort of a tribe, and want to keep our borders and not allow the people who live across the street to enter our tribe.


What is somebody passes a law that said you could not mary?

I am deeply ashamed of the 52% of Californian voters who voted YES on Prop 8. Keith Olbermann speaks for me.


To show it or to not show it

I recently spent some time learning about protecting ones identity. One of the things that are considered "personal information" is a person's name, date of birth, and address. We all should try not to give these to anyone unless absolutely required.

I noticed that I do not need to show my ID when I use my credit card in Europe. Instead, they complain about my card not being signed. In the US, merchants keep asking to see my ID when I use my card, an no-one ever complained about signing my card on the back.

So I did a little research and found out that customers do not need to show their IDs. I also learned that unsigned cards are invalid. Various merchant agreements that credit card companies sign with merchants contain very specific information about asking for ID.

The following is found in "Rules for VISA Merchants":
"Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID. Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures."

The following is found in "MASTERCARD Worldwide Rules":
"A merchant must not refuse to complete a MasterCard card transaction solely because a cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a card at the POI refuses to provide additional identification information."

Ever since I learned about this, I was tempted not to show my ID, realizing how easy it is for the cashier to glance over to my birth date or an address. I finally decided to refuse to show my ID yesterday at Metropark store in San Francisco Westfield. The cashier was taken off guard, and asked "why". I told her that I do not need to show the ID since MasterCard takes care of possible fraudulent charges, and that their merchant agreement clearly states that customers do not have to provide ID if their card is signed. She then swiped my card, and went to talk to her supervisor who confirmed this. She came back and politely appologized for her confusion and wished me a great day. I felt little awkward, since I obviously made her look bad, and now I am not sure if I want to keep exercising my right to not show my ID. It would take lots of energy and possible arguments to keep educating merchants about this rule.

What do you think?

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