Opinion: Girls are taking over Comic Con
Take a good look, publishers. These ladies are buying comic books.
July 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Opinion: Girls are taking over Comic Con

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is a business analyst and consultant specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. This is an excerpt from his latest book, "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012) which focuses on the nerdy audience at the largest comic book trade show in the Western Hemisphere. Follow him @robsalk.

I don’t think it will come as a big shock that, for most of the history of comics fandom, conventions have not been distinguished by high numbers of females of any age. That began to change in the 1990s, when strong and emotionally authentic female characters like Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the cheerful Goth-girl personification of Death in Neil Gaiman’s popular "Sandman" series activated the recessive fan gene on the X chromosome.

The trend accelerated with the mainstream popularity of manga, which had developed numerous styles over the years to appeal to all genders and was sold in bookstores, beyond the boys-club direct market comics shops. The rise of the Internet poured gasoline on the fire, creating spaces for feminerds to come out of the woodwork and share their passions. Many of today’s best online comic and fantasy-genre news sites and discussion groups were started by, and remain powered by, women.

Today, there are increasing numbers of proud girl geeks of all ages; I count myself fortunate to be married to one. Crowds at conventions and even some comics stores now reflect a much more equal gender balance. As for the comics industry itself, not so much. But that’s a different conversation.

Read the full post on CNN's GeekOut! blog

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Filed under: Gender • Girls • History • Technology • What we think • Women
Opinion: The overwhelming maleness of mass homicide
Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes makes his first court appearance on Monday in Centennial, Colorado.
July 24th, 2012
09:39 AM ET

Opinion: The overwhelming maleness of mass homicide

By Erika Christakis, TIME.com

(TIME.com) - There's a predictable cycle of mourning and finger-pointing that follows a massacre like the shootings last week in Aurora, Colorado. First come the calls for unity and flags flown at half-staff. Then the national fissures appear: The gun lobby stiffens its spine as gun control advocates make their case. Psychologists parse the shooter's background, looking for signs of mental illness or family disarray. Politicians point fingers about "society run amok" and "cultures of despair."

We've been down this path so many times, yet we keep missing the elephant in the room: How many of the worst mass murderers in American history were women? None. This is not to suggest that women are never violent, and there are even the rare cases of female serial killers. But why aren't we talking about the glaring reality that acts of mass murder (and, indeed, every single kind of violence) are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men? Pointing out that fact may seem politically incorrect or irrelevant, but our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: Men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims.

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Filed under: Gender • History • How we look • What we think • Women
Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies
Sally Ride, America's first female astronaut, died Monday, July 23, after having pancreatic cancer for 17 months. She was 61.
July 23rd, 2012
09:26 PM ET

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her company said. She was 61.

"Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless," read a statement on the website of Sally Ride Science, a company she started to help teach students - particularly young women and girls - about science, math and technology.

Share your tributes to Sally Ride

Ride flew into orbit aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 to become America's first woman in space. She took a second trip aboard the same shuttle one year later.

Photos: 1983 Challenger launch

The first woman in space was Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, who orbited the earth 48 times in 1963.

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Filed under: Who we are • Women
July 23rd, 2012
05:19 PM ET

Cops see hate crime in woman's mutilation

By Melissa Abbey, CNN

(CNN) - Three masked men allegedly bound a woman and carved words into her skin, police in Lincoln, Nebraska, said Monday.

The incident has been classified as a hate crime because a derogatory term for lesbians was painted inside the home, said Officer Katie Flood, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Police Department.

Someone had carved words into the woman's body, police said, but investigators declined to elaborate. In addition, someone poured gasoline around the house and lit it, but the fire did little damage, police said.

After the attack, the woman made her way to the home of a neighbor, Linda Rappl, who said she feared bad news about her husband, who is in hospice, when she heard someone knocking on her door before dawn Sunday.

What she saw instead was her 33-year-old neighbor, she said, naked and bleeding.

"I was in shock," Rappl said. "She was naked, her hands were tied with zip ties. All I could see was a cut across her forehead and blood running down."

The woman was sobbing. Rappl, 68, brought her neighbor inside and wrapped her in a blanket before calling 911.

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July 23rd, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Little League team relives Negro League history on road trip

by Sarah Hoye, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Myles Eaddy stands mystified at the edge of the baseball field along the first base line at Nationals Park while the New York Mets warm up for their evening game against the Nationals.

His head traces the ball into the outfield with each crack of a bat.

Nationals Park is one of several Major League Baseball parks that he has visited this summer with his Little League team, the Anderson Monarchs. As a tribute to Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues, the inner city team traveled back in time aboard a vintage 1947 Flxible Clipper touring bus, once used by the Newark Eagles, for the ultimate road trip.

Rare photos of Jackie Robinson, 65 years after his major league debut

The three-week, 4,000-mile journey gave the team from South Philadelphia a glimpse at what Robinson and other players went through during the barnstorming days of the Negro Leagues.

"I'll never forget this," said 10-year-old Eaddy. "It's hard to explain. It's really fun. I get to do all this stuff, meet all these people. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Along the cross-country trip, the Monarchs played games against local youth teams, met surviving players from the Negro Leagues and visited historic sites such as Robinson's grave site in Brooklyn, the Field of Dreams in Iowa and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Filed under: Age • Black in America • History • How we live • Sports
July 23rd, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Background of Colorado shooting suspect full of contrasts

By Mariano Castillo and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

(CNN) - James E. Holmes is described by those who know him as a doctoral student who is clean-cut, quiet and responsible, an image difficult to reconcile with the same man who police allege opened fire in a crowded movie theater.

Days after the 24-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a mass shooting at the Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, the portrait of Holmes that is emerging is as limited as it is confusing.

Pictures obtained of Holmes show a bright-eyed young man, who is tall with dark hair, which contrasts the description of the man by a law enforcement official who said he dyed his hair red and identified himself as "the Joker" to authorities after he was arrested early Friday morning for allegedly shooting people during a screening of the new Batman movie.

By all accounts, Holmes is a bright student. He entered the University of California, Riverside, in 2006 as a scholarship student and graduated with highest honors with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience in 2010.

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Filed under: Education • Who we are
July 21st, 2012
08:35 AM ET

Opinion: Sylvia's, like soul food, feels like home

Editor's Note: Byron Hurt is a documentary filmmaker whose latest film, Soul Food Junkies, is scheduled to broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens in January 2013.

By Byron Hurt, Special to CNN

(CNN) – A friend of mine called me Thursday evening and asked, “Did you hear the news about Sylvia?”

Sylvia Woods, queen of soul food, dies at 86 

I knew right away which Sylvia my friend was referring to. Something must have happened to Ms. Sylvia Woods, the pioneering restaurateur whose soul food gave so many people comfort.

As I thought about the social and historical significance of Sylvia, what struck me is that my friend didn’t refer to Sylvia as "Ms. Woods" or "Sylvia Woods."

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

She simply said "Sylvia."  It was as if she were calling to inform me that a family member or a close personal friend had just passed.

Though Sylvia Woods was not a blood relative, she felt like one to me, and to anyone who frequented her world famous Harlem restaurant. It was a place where you were home. You could let your guard down, relax and dig in. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Health • History • What we think
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

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