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July 20th, 2012
07:47 PM ET

After the Aurora shooting, a nerd braces for impact

by Ann Hoevel, CNN

A man opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 38. Along with the alleged shooter’s family and the NRA, I expect nerds and other outcasts will get some unwanted attention today.

My stomach dropped when I heard news of the mass shooting for the same reasons everyone else's did.

Shooting suspect was doctoral student, had 'obvious intellectual capacity'

But as a nerd and CNN's resident expert on geeky subcultures, I readied myself for pointed questions which I expected to get from outside the geek community: "Why 'Batman'?" "Is the shooter a nerd?" "Why is it always the loner?"

There's a precedent for labeling people considered nerds or geeks or outsiders as potentially dangerous individuals who might snap. After the Columbine shootings, Goths were given a wider birth than usual. Post school shootings, video gamers get to field a slew of weapons-related questions. Now my gut tells me comic book fans and movie geeks might face closer scrutiny even though there's no evidence the alleged shooter was either.

CNN: Debunking the myths of Columbine, 10 years later

But if the public shooting incidents of the last twenty years  – Columbine, Virginia Tech, D.C. sniper, Gabby Giffords – have taught us anything, it's that people who decide to kill innocents are many things. They are students, veterans, children, parents, jilted lovers, video game enthusiasts and rock music fans.

CNN: Professor: Virginia Tech shooter’s writing dripped with anger

Suspected Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes was a PHD candidate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver who was in the process of leaving the graduate program. Though little is knows about the alleged killer, he has been labeled a "nerd" by an uncle who spoke to the press. A  neighbor pegged him a loner. And already a former FBI profiler speculated he might be a "dark, Trekkie-like person."

Whether the Colorado shooter or any other killer considers himself a nerd, mass murderers are, above all else, mentally imbalanced. It is not normal human behavior to conduct a shooting rampage.

Read the full post on CNN's Geek Out! blog

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Opinion: Meritocracy in Silicon Valley a worthy goal but not a reality
Marissa Mayer, who is pregnant with her first child, created a buzz this week when she became Yahoo's new CEO.
July 20th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Opinion: Meritocracy in Silicon Valley a worthy goal but not a reality

Editor's note: Freada Kapor Klein is a venture partner at Kapor Capital , the founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and author of "Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You Can Help Them Stay."  She says her career has been devoted to helping create fair workplaces, beginning with co-founding the first group on sexual harassment in the United States in 1976.

By Freada Kapor Klein, Special to CNN

(CNN) – I look forward to the day when a pregnant engineer becoming CEO of a major tech company isn’t news.

Wouldn’t it be great if the hottest deals were done in the nursing mothers’ lounge as often as they were done on the golf course?

If this possibility strikes us as odd, perhaps it’s a sign that Silicon Valley has not yet achieved the perfect meritocracy it claims to be.

Opinion: Silicon Valley is no meritocracy for minorities

Despite the best intentions, Silicon Valley bears little resemblance to the America it depends on for talent and customers.

This gap between aspiration and achievement is worth serious exploration.

Recently, I was part of a panel with Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo, and Angela Benton, the founder of NewMe Accelerator who was profiled on CNN’s Black in America 4: "Silicon Valley, the New Promised Land."

If Mayer can have it all, can you?

Their stories reflected two different paths to success. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ethnicity • Gender • Race • Technology • What we think
Sylvia Woods - beyond the label, a legacy of dignity and inspiration
Culinary historian Michael W. Twitty says that Sylvia Woods, the “Queen of Soul Food", allowed people to celebrate and embrace Southern cuisine.
July 20th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Sylvia Woods - beyond the label, a legacy of dignity and inspiration

Editor's Note: Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian, living history interpreter and Jewish educator from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at Afroculinaria.com and thecookinggene.com. As the originator of the Cooking Gene Project, he seeks to trace his ancestry through food.

Walking down the ambiguous “ethnic” aisle in the local supermarket the other day ago, I was struck by the fact that every other ethnic group seemed to have a label on their cooking supplies but African Americans. I shouldn’t complain – it’s probably in the best interest of culinary political correctness. Then that familiar smiling face greeted me from my favorite seasoning for greens – a youthful, beautiful Sylvia Woods telling me that we didn’t need a label, we just needed to be.

The “Queen of Soul Food,” lent her face and character to a brand built on dignity – from a line of products for the Up South home cook to cookbooks, to a successful family business that is justly the culinary embassy of Harlem. To those of us inspired by her entrepreneurial drive and commitment to family, faith and food, the loss of Mrs. Woods is a time to reflect on the unique gifts this gastronomic ambassador brought to the American table.

Sylvia Woods was a graduate of the tobacco fields and truck patches of Hemingway, South Carolina. Much like family and many others, she and her husband joined the wave North in search of a better life, while maintaining strong links to the family “home place.” Sylvia’s, now an institution of 50 years in the New York scene, made way for a whole host of fabulous soul food restaurants, each giving a taste of home to migrants and their descendants but to tourists from around the world as well.

Read the full post on CNN's Eatocracy blog

T-Rex: The Youngest Female Olympic boxer
At only 17, Claressa Shields has won two Junior Olympic championships.
July 20th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

T-Rex: The Youngest Female Olympic boxer

By Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN

(CNN) –At 11, Claressa Shields decided she wanted to box, even with her father’s objections. At 17, she is the youngest female competing in the women’s boxing arena at the 2012 Olympics in London.

“She's a beast. She's physically and athletically the most exciting thing to happen to women's boxing in a long time,” photographer Zackary Canepari said. Along with fellow producers Drea Cooper and Sue Jaye Johnson, Canepari has documented the teenage boxer as she trains, competes and lives the life of a normal teenager.

The team has followed the young athlete, who is from Flint, Michigan, to Canada, China, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs and now to London.

“Following her is like following a rock star,” Canepari said. “My frequent flier miles are stacking up.”

Read the full post on CNN's photo blog

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Filed under: Age • Girls • Sports • Who we are