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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
Home country: USA
Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
Number of posts: 7,062

About Me

Husband, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

Journal Archives

Meet Captain Marvel: Fighter Pilot, Feminist and Marvel’s Big Gamble

If you’re not a comic book fan, you probably hadn’t heard of Captain Marvel before last week — and you likely wouldn’t have guessed that she’s a woman.

Last Tuesday (October 28), Marvel Studios announced that the Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, will be the first female superhero to get her own Marvel Studios movie in 2017. She will be in good company: Both Wonder Woman and a unnamed female character from the Spider-Man universe will get their own treatments that year too.

The decision came as a shock even to the Captain Marvel comics writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, who after neglecting to return a phone call from her editor, found out through her Twitter feed. She responded by tweeting, “Did not see this coming.” And if the movies stay true to the comic books, the fighter pilot with half-alien DNA and a passing resemblance to Gloria Steinem in both looks and feminist conviction will be a far cry from the damsels in distress audiences have grown accustomed to seeing in superhero films.

The former Air Force pilot — who DeConnick says is meant to have the swagger of record-setting pilot Chuck Yeager — can fly and shoot beams out of her hands. And she fits nicely in the universe of cocky, wisecracking heroes that we’ve seen since the first Iron Man movie: She’s a control freak with a big ego and a quick temper. In fact, Danvers may prove to be a lynchpin in the Marvel universe. In the comics, she’s a member of the Avengers and works closely with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel Studios has yet to announce whether Danvers will appear in either of these series, but it’s safe to assume that tapping someone connected to both universes wasn’t a mistake. Plus it can’t hurt that the company’s name is in her title.



Marvel Comic featuring Muslim-American teen becoming a top seller.

By Jesse SchedeenMarvel's All-New Marvel NOW promotion resulted in the launch of a lot of new superhero comics earlier this year. And while there were certainly a fair amount of Avengers and Wolverine-themed comics, there were also plenty of titles that focused on relatively lesser-known characters. Books like She-Hulk, All-New Ghost Rider, and Elektra have tried new things when it comes to storytelling and visual presentation. They've helped address the problem that not enough superhero comics focus on female and minority characters. They've earned Marvel plenty of critical praise, but not a lot of cold, hard cash.

The sluggish sales of these books would seem to support the notion that the general superhero audience just doesn't care for books that don't revolve around A-List characters and big, continuity-driven storylines. However, not every book has struggled to find and maintain a large audience. The new Ms. Marvel series might just be the biggest success story to come out of All-New Marvel NOW. It's new, it's different, and it's built up quite an impressive audience over the past nine months or so. Ms. Marvel (and books like it) taps into a niche that Marvel and DC haven't done enough to cater towards in the past. And it's a niche that will continue to be important not just in terms of comic sales, but the continued growth of the superhero film genre.

Clearly something about Ms. Marvel is hooking readers in a way books like She-Hulk haven't quite managed. Sales for monthly issues of the series are surprisingly robust. The first issue alone is going back to the presses for a seventh printing, which is something we haven't seen since the launch of DC's New 52 comics three years ago. And there are even rumors that Ms. Marvel is the rare sort of comic that sells better digitally than it does in print. There's no way to corroborate those rumors since publishers are still reluctant to reveal digital sales figures, but any way you slice it, the future is pretty rosy for this comic.

But why has Kamala Khan proven such a hit with readers when more established Marvel characters continue to struggle to find an audience? Even writer G. Willow Wilson seems surprised by the reception to the series, as she's admitted she never expected the book to last more than six months. Clearly it's not simply a matter of Marvel placing the spotlight on a female character. Otherwise She-Hulk and Elektra would be selling much better than they are.


Ashton Kutcher, Uber investor, wanders into the dumbest fight of his life

Uber investor Ashton Kutcher is defending Uber from comments that one of its executives made on Friday, in which the exec casually threatened to launch a smear campaign against a specific journalist who had written negatively about the company. In a series of tweets, Kutcher questioned whether Uber business exec Emil Michael's suggestion that the company hire researchers to dig up dirt on journalists was really a bad idea. "What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?" Kutcher tweeted, without noting what was "shady" about the journalist in question.

Kutcher's argument was that everyone is now a public figure thanks to the internet. In particular, he writes that journalists are culpable because some print "half truths as facts" and then leave their subjects to defend themselves as a story spans the globe. "Questioning the source needs to happen... Always!" he writes. Kutcher also noted that he is speaking for himself and not on behalf of Uber.

While Kutcher's point about questioning sources is a fine one, he seems to ignore the fact that Uber's executive is reported to have made a specific threat against one journalist, PandoDaily editor-in-chief Sarah Lacy. And that threat was not made because she was acting "shady," as he writes, but for writing negatively about what she calls Uber's "asshole culture." Kutcher eventually concedes that he's somewhat off the mark, though it's not totally clear where the change of heart comes from. "U r all right and I'm on the wrong side of this ultimately," Kutcher writes. "I just wish journalists were held to the same standards as public figures."

As PandoDaily editor Paul Carr points out, Kutcher's tweets still serve to support Uber even in the face of his changing course. "Of course backed down, but he did his celeb investor job for Uber — planted the idea that Sarah is 'shady' without facts," he writes on Twitter. It's also a case of Uber wildly missing the point. Lacy, or any other journalist, isn't what Uber should be fighting back against — its target should be the internal culture that has led to all of the bad decisions that keep bringing it negative press.


Joan Baez - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (VIDEO)

What part of TV-MA do "concerned parents" not understand?

With all of the mature, violent, sexual content filling up each episode of FX’s Sons of Anarchy, you’d think the Parents Television Council would have a direct line to series creator Kurt Sutter’s office, where each of their complaints could be addressed accordingly. (With lots of ignoring and deleting, presumably.) The PTC is breathing heavily and seductively down Sutter’s neck for last Tuesday’s episode, which kicked off with an opening montage of nearly all of the main characters engaging in sexual acts. Their advice to FX: go join all those titties and asses on HBO.

The PTC called the opening sequence the “most sexually explicit content the has ever documented on basic cable,” according to THR. To be fair, they’re pretty spot on with it being one of the most sexually forward things cable has ever shown. Not only did we see Jax having good sex, but we saw Gemma and Nero having bad sex, Marilyn Manson sorta raping Juice, Wendy getting down with a vibrator, and Tig doing…whatever he was doing…with transgender character Venus Van Dam. All before the opening credits. But was it more damaging than the endless amounts of violence on this and many other series across the TV dial? Doubtful.

And so if FX wants to show audiences such skin-tastic material, the PTC feels their audience should have to pay for it as a separate part of their cable package. Here’s how PTC president Tim Winter puts it in a press release.

For years, FX has been pursuing a path to be as explicit as HBO yet still be included in the forced-bundle of advertiser-supported networks that every cable or satellite subscriber must purchase through their monthly bill. If FX wants to be like HBO and air this kind of explicit content, then they should become a premium network.”

Of course, in the face of rational arguments that FX airs the series during the latest primetime hour along with ample warnings and TV-MA ratings, Winter then moves the argument to one involving customers only paying for the content that they want a la carte. He compares it to paying for other movies in a theater instead of solely the one he’s going to see, and says that the Sons of Anarchy footage is something of a watershed moment for cable programming.

In order to watch cable news, ESPN, Disney or the History Channel, every family in America must now also pay for pornography on FX.”


Romney: Obama Needs to Learn That He Lost the Midterms

On Sunday, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney sat down with CBS Face the Nation to criticize the president’s handling of the battle against ISIS forces, as well as his potential executive action on immigration.

Romney reiterated his belief that the president has been “inept” on Middle East policy, asserting that it was a mistake to declare “no boots on the ground” in the region. “It is not acceptable for ISIS to present the kind of threat it does to the world,” the former governor said after suggesting the “no boots” remark will necessarily prove contradictory.

“If it takes our own troops” to destroy ISIS, Romney said, then “you don’t take that off the table.”

As for the possibility of Obama taking executive action to overhaul policy and protect millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the states, Romney said: “The president has got to learn that he lost this last election round.”


Alleged Bin Laden shooter: I'm not trying to make this about me

O'Neill's new mission is to help fellow veterans transition to civilian life. He helped start a charity called Your Grateful Nation to do just that.

"A lot of people have told me it's more stressful thinking about getting out of the Navy than going back to combat, because at least in combat they know exactly what to expect," O'Neill said.

O'Neill hopes his new-found notoriety will provide a platform for him to better serve and help fellow vets. Already they've been able to give money to a fellow former SEAL.


Police Officers Draw Guns During Unannounced ‘Active Shooter Drill’ At Elementary School

Winter Haven, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) – Students, teachers and parents were taken by surprise after an “active shooter drill” brought the Winter Haven middle school into lockdown as armed police officers burst into classrooms with their weapons drawn.

Students at Jewett Middle Academy said they were terrified when police officers burst in the doors for a planned active shooter drill – but students and teachers are irked they were not told ahead of time.

Seventh-grader Lauren Marionneaux told WTVT-TV that when the officers burst into her class with an AR-15, she was in fear for her life.

“We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us,” the station quoted her as saying.

But police say they conduct these drills for the absolute safety of the students.


Christine Pelosi named as potential new S.F. Supervisor

San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu’s election to the state Assembly will have wide reverberations at City Hall in the coming weeks — and could leave District Three unrepresented for a month — as political insiders jockey to influence not only who will replace him but also who will be the board’s new president.

Many possibilities exist for both jobs, and it seems likely that the board will have a new president before it has a new supervisor. The developments are being closely watched, because a more progressive District Three representative or president stands to shift the balance of power toward the left at the Board of Supervisors and affect whether Mayor Ed Lee can secure legislative backing for his tech-friendly, pro-business policies.

Planning Commission President Cindy Wu — a longtime affordable housing advocate whose politics are to the left of Lee’s — is favored by Chinatown power players for Chiu’s seat. For much of the past year, she has been seen as the heir apparent for the District Three seat, but her connections are giving some mayoral allies pause.

Lee is being pressured by some in his inner circle to look at other candidates considered more moderate or business-friendly. They include Julie Christensen, a neighborhood activist and product design consultant whose advocacy included the construction of the new North Beach Library, and Christine Pelosi, a Democratic Party strategist and the daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.


Emails show SF zookeepers pushed for extra help, warned of hazards before gorilla death

More than a year before a closing hydraulic door fatally crushed a 16-month-old gorilla, zookeepers pushed for extra staff to monitor the San Francisco Zoo’s youngest gorilla and warned that young gorillas had trouble understanding the zoo’s electric doors, documents show.

National agencies and an investigator hired by the zoo are trying to piece together what happened Nov. 7 when Kabibe, a western lowland gorilla who was born at the zoo in July 2013, somehow ended up pinned underneath one of the doors to the gorillas’ nighttime enclosure at closing time.

Initial information released by the zoo shows that the zookeeper “appeared” to not follow protocol by keeping a hand on an emergency stop button to the doors as they closed.

Emails and documents obtained by The San Francisco Examiner on Friday show that gorilla keepers warned that young gorillas did not understand closing doors, and that after Kabibe was introduced to the group, workers pushed for a third zookeeper who was never hired.

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