A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.
Anderson Cooper to make his Marvel Comics debut in an upcoming "Black Widow" storyline. "'It’s Anderson doing what he does best: looking for the truth and reporting on events. We imagine that in Black Widow’s world, as would be the case with many other Avengers, things she does can’t be ignored by the media and all it takes is somebody who knows how to ask the right questions to make her world very uncomfortable for her but in a way that is perhaps not unjust.”
Amazon may be launching its drone delivery service as early as this October....in India.
Matthew McConaughey is reportedly up to play the villain in the long-gestating adaption of Stephen King's The Stand.
5 reasons not to worry about artificial intelligence destroying humanity.
Texas gay couple's Doctor Who-themed engagement photo goes viral - just in time for the Season 8 premiere tonight.
Economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin explains his concept of The Internet of Things and its potential role in the future fall of capitalism.
Controversial video-hosting site LiveLeak bans ISIS following their release of the James Foley execution video.
Google is testing its self-driving car in a complete virtual "Matrix California" - "According to the Guardian, this virtual world is housed inside computers at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, and provides a complete map of California’s entire road network. It even throws in some real life obstacles to trip the cars up, like overzealous motorists and jaywalking pedestrians.
Indicted Texas Gov Rick Perry, expressing concern that ISIS could come in through Mexico, is hoping to get more drones patrolling the US-Mexico border.
Henry Cavill on set in his full superhero suit for the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Verge looks at how the U.S. goverment's online presence could use an upgrade: "Imagine a single, central website that could answer any question you had about government and whether it can help you. One portal where you could log in, and with a tool as familiar as Google search, ask: "how can I apply for a passport?" "is it illegal to fish without a license in Washington, DC?" "where do I vote?" "what do I do if my disability claim is taking too long?" "what forms do I need to establish my business?" No matter your query, you are met with an actionable answer, or a way to contact a human being who can help you with your request."
Another way to prove Moon landing hoax conspiracy theorists wrong: moon dust.
Check out what a circa 1987 Apple thought the world would be like a decade later.
How does the iPhone 5 camera hold up against Fujifilm's X-T1?
It's rare to find an LGBT protagonist at the heart of a successful science-fiction story. Rarer still to find one played by an openly gay actor. That's not the only thing special about John Barrowman and his portrayal of Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness, but it's certainly worth celebrating.
At a time when comic book-inspired movies and television shows are dominating popular culture, one shouldn't underestimate the importance of LGBT visibility within the historically straight male genre. Spun out of the wildly popular relaunch of Doctor Who (which returns tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on BBC America), Barrowman's character went on to headline his own spin-off. Torchwood ran four seasons (or "series" as they like to call them across the pond), including one co-produced by the BBC and U.S. cable network Starz.
Harkness, written by the same guy who created the United Kingdom's Queer As Folk, is an intergalactic lothario. While many gay characters on television are still criticized for being sexless, Barrowman's work as Captain Jack didn't shy away from his sexuality (even though it did sometimes fluster the network).
“He is unique as a gay man on television in that he's overtly sexual,” Doctor Who and Torchwood scribe Russell T. Davies told the Telegraph in 2008. "But he's also an expert at modulating his own personality for different audiences while remaining essentially himself. That's a hard thing to do. He has a gift for it."
As a regular participant at comic conventions, Barrowman dazzles the crowd with his wit and candor. Whether it's discussing the power of marriage or dropping trou to reveal his Captain America underwear, he's a much-needed role model for gay geeks the world over.
Though he's best known for Doctor Who and Torchwood, that's only the tip of Barrowman's very talented iceberg. Watch some of our favorite clips of Barrowman singing, dancing and smooching, AFTER THE JUMP ...
Before becoming a prominent sci-fi swashbuckler, John Barrowman got his start in the theatre. He appeared in several productions in London’s West End, including The Phantom of the Opera, Hair and Sunset Boulevard. In 2009, he played Albin/Zaza in La Cage aux Folles in the West End. See him perform “I Am What I Am” on a television appearance in the clip above.
He became best known as the omnisexual space hero Captain Jack Harkness, a time-traveler at the center of an alien-hunting team. His charm and smile have beguiled men, women and all sorts of interstellar creatures across time and space, including a steamy makeout/slugfest with James Marsters (whom you might recognize as Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer).
In addition to his acting chops, Barrowman is known as a host/presenter in the United Kingdom. He served as a judge alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber, Zoe Tyler and David Ian on How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? on BBC One. The show searched for an actress to play Maria von Trapp in a London production of The Sound of Music.
Now you can see Barrowman as the villainous Malcolm Merlyn on Arrow. The CW’s superhero drama is already packed full of hunks with stars Colton Haynes and Stephen Amell, but with Barrowman added as a series regular for the upcoming third season, each episode should come with smelling salts.
Barrowman has been outspoken about issues affecting the LGBT community. "I've never had to hide who I am,” he said to Vulture in 2011. “And if somebody tells me that I'm not going to get a job because of who I am, which I have really no control over, I turn around and say, 'Well, [expletive] you, I'm going to change that.'" He partnered with Stonewall to promote the “People are gay. Get over it!” campaign. He also recently worked a man-on-man kiss into the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which many took as a response to the 42 out of the 53 competing nations that criminalize homosexuality.
Are you a John Barrowman fan?
Gymnast and contortionist for Cirque du Soleil: TOTEM Joe Putignano has a new book coming out called Acrobaddict. Unfortunately, it's not about Putignano's love for gymnastics, but instead about his life as a heroin addict and how he overcame it. Supplementing his story is a brief documentary on Hulu titled "Cirque du Soleil: TOTEM Voices Joe", which is naturally unembeddable here but can be watched for free on Hulu. In the video Joe recounts how he got into gymnastics, how that led to his heroin addiction, and how a choreographer and his current boyfriend helped pull him out and into a sober second chance at life.
He has also had interviews about his past on Anderson Cooper and CNN, both of which you can watch AFTER THE JUMP...
Joan Rivers, the self-proclaimed "Queen of the Gays" and all-around funny lady, was ordained by the Universal Life Church and may quickly become the go-to officiant for New York gay couples. After performing a ceremony atop the Empire State Building in 2013, Ms. Rivers was again asked to perform her duty last week.
On Aug. 15, the 81-year-old comedian, author and icon married William "Jed" Ryan and Joseph Aiello at New York's Plaza Athenee, Out magazine is reporting.
As it turns out, it was the second time down the aisle for the couple. In June, Rivers agreed to marry Ryan and Aiello on the spot at a Barnes & Noble signing of her new book, Diary of a Mad Diva, in Manhattan. Although photos and footage of that ceremony were picked up by numerous media outlets, the couple didn't have a proper marriage license at the time, so Rivers vowed to arrange a second ceremony so the men could legally tie the knot.
Thanks for the love and support, Joan! Now, what celebrity officiant would you want presiding over your wedding? Sound off in the comments below.
Photo via Out Magazine.
Since coming out as gay earlier this year Sam Smith has stepped into the cultural spotlight for reasons other than his singing voice. Smith, 22, made a name for himself channeling memories of unrequited loved into his debut album In The Lonely Hour, describing the record as “a diary from a lonely 21-year-old.”
“It was my way of talking about the only real issue in my life.” Smith explained to Digital Spy. “I fell in love with someone who didn't love me back, and it made me get into this head space of Will I find love?”
Since May, and the meteoric rise of his album, Smith has reportedly continued his search for true love as young artists are wont to do. A traditionalist at heart, however, Smith has made a point of condemning the use matchmaking and hook up apps to find a lasting connection. Smith, who is now dating, describes having met his new beau the “proper way,” a sentiment that has left some of his mans a bit miffed. Given Smith’s status as a freshly minted icon, Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak and The Wire’s Kevin O’Keefe took the singer to task for his dismissal of what they consider to be a rather substantial aspect of modern gay culture.
More than just preferring traditional face to face interaction, O’Keefe argues, Smith is making an implicit condemnation of forms of gay culture that might not necessarily be considered as “normal.”
“As a gay singer, it's not a stretch to imagine much of Smith's potential fanbase does use Grindr, Tinder, etc.” O’Keefe lays out in a lengthy essay. “Sure, he shouldn't pander to them if he doesn't agree with what they're doing, but to essentially wag his finger and say "naughty, naughty" seems like bad PR.”
In Juzwiak’s opinion, Smith’s posturing of himself in opposition to men interested in exploring newer ways to connect with one another smacks both of mild technophobia and cliched gay respectability politics:
"[T]here is a different experience to be had, one that is just as real as the painful one Smith implies, one without pathology or grief. Apps don't necessarily ruin communication; they fix it for people who are too nervous to approach people in public. Or they just make it easier to get sex when you want sex.”
Smith’s words, given that he’s a young, rising star openly identifying himself as gay, carry an added layer of significance not just for his fans, but also to the industry mechanics that ultimately decide what kind of artist’s projects get greenlit. Smith incorporates the very real themes of gay love, loss, and longing into his music and videos, which is an undeniable sign of progress. That progress is undercut, however, when those themes are come along with caveats that devalue certain forms of intimate connection in favor of others.
Watch Sam Smith's interview with Fresh 102.7 discuss his coming out AFTER THE JUMP...
Dan Page, a St. Louis police officer who's been "helping" the on-the-ground situation in Ferguson, has been suspending after video surfaced of the military veteran giving an hour-long rant stuffed with racist, sexist, and homophobic language.
In his rambling remarks on the video, he talks about what he describes as a draft replacement for the U.S. Constitution, the "four sodomites on the Supreme Court," and a visit to Kenya "to our undocumented President's home." He refers to Barack Obama as "that illegal alien who claims to be our President." Page frequently references violence, including nine combat tours in the Army, during which he did "my fair share of killing." Speaking about Muslims, he says pointedly: "They will kill you." On domestic disputes, he opines: "You don't like each other that much, just kill each other and get it over with. Problem solved. Get it done." On urban violence, he predicts that "when the inner cities start to ignite, people are going to start killing people they don't like."
And lastly, Page says, "I personally believe the Lord Jesus Christ is my savior, but I'm also a killer. I've killed a lot and, if I need to, I will kill a whole bunch more. If you don't want to get killed, don't show up in front of me."
Watch the full rant, AFTER THE JUMP...
One of Page's more inflammatory anti-gay segments in the rant came when he discussed the persecution and prosecution that Christians face in the country today.
There are three phases that a society goes through. One is persecution. That means your faith is being challenged, everybody mocks you, everybody ridicules you. They stand for nothing. If you stand against sodomy and abortion - you are a terrorist ladies and gentlemen. The next phase is prosecution. There's a couple out there in New Mexico that are being prosecuted and put out of business and were arrested because they refused to take pictures of sodomites. What about my freedom of religion from that? And the military right now - you have open sodomy. People holding hands, swapping spit together. It's sick. It's pitiful.
St. Louis police chief Jon Belmar has issued an apology for Page's remarks, which you can also check out AFTER THE JUMP...
Here's video of Page confronting CNN's Don Lemon a few days ago on the streets of Ferguson:
St. Louis police chief Jon Belmar's response to Page's video: