Captain America: Civil War
The Marvel Cinematic Universe released another wildly successful movie earlier this month. With a budget of around $250 million, Captain America: Civil War kicked off the (now) official start of the summer movie season and brought in over $675.8 million. The show pits The Avenger characters against one another in an epic battle. Disney (the studio behind the film) has become the fastest studio to surpass the $1 billion mark in a calendar year, earning $1.212 billion dollars in just 128 days. That number will continue to grow, as Disney is set to release Alice Through the Looking Glass and Finding Dory later this summer.
The last Captain America movie also marked the screen debut of the superhero Black Panther. The character, which first appeared in a 1966 issue of The Fantastic Four comic book, is making a comeback, set to headline his own blockbuster in 2018. In addition, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates (author of the Best Seller, Between the World and Me and recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant”) has announced that he will pen 12 issues of a Black Panther comic book. Supporters are hopeful that his representation will counter a history of negative racial representations in comics.
What Do You Think? Did you see Civil War? If not, do you plan on it? What other Marvel-related films or comic books (if any) have you seen or read? Which ones appeal most to you and why?
The Art of the Carousel
While the thrills we experience are becoming more and more likely to be provided by the movie franchises described above, there are a few amusement “cottage industries” that still exist. One of them is the carousel, or merry-go-round. Unlike attractions such as the roller coaster that require increasingly greater feats of engineering, the art of designing, casting and carving carousel animals requires an old fashioned hands-on approach and attract the attention of collectors.
There are two companies—both located in Ohio—that specialize in customized pieces. Far from its “golden age” (the turn of the 20th century), both companies have, nonetheless, become leaders in a kind of revival of interest in carousels. It is believed that the Great Depression led to a significant decrease in carousel building–because it cost more money to operate them than they made in profit. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, the horses became more popular by themselves (as art pieces) than as part of an operating merry-go-round.
Related: Watch this video to learn how Carousel Works took on the challenge of designing a carousel that could operate at sea.
Dig Deeper Think of an “old fashioned” industry. Do some research and see if you can find a person or company that does that kind of craft. Find out where they are located, why they do what they do and what kind of success they have had (and how they define “success”).
Results of New Zealand Flag Vote
At the end of last year, btw reported on New Zealanders voting on whether to adopt a new flag design or retain its current flag. A panel made up of government officials selected five designs from over 10,000 entries. Then voters mailed in ballots choosing a final design. They chose one that featured four red stars representing the Southern Cross constellation along with a silver fern on a blue background. From there, more than two million voters recently went to the polls to cast a formal vote to either adopt the new design or keep the current flag. They chose the latter 57 percent to 43 percent.
The process has been criticized for its expense (the equivalent of $18 million dollars), despite the fact that a November poll of the people of New Zealand showed that 65 percent said that they wanted to keep the current flag.
Dig Deeper The motivation for changing the flag had been because it featured a Union Jack flag (that of Great Britain), stemming from its days as a British colony. Some believed the change would be a symbol of independence. Find out if there have been similar instances of countries that are former colonies. What (if any) changes were made to those flags?
New FDA Smoking Regulations
Over the past couple of years, btw has brought you stories about the rise of personal vaporizers (or e-cigarettes) and its decade-long stretch of not being subject to regulation. That has changed. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was finally granted the authority over previously unregulated tobacco products. In addition to vaporizers, this includes cigars and hookah. In three months, the agency will begin enforcing the ban of selling such products to minors. In addition, the manufacturers of such products will be required to disclose information such as ingredients, processes, and emissions data.
In 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report linking smoking to lung cancer. This led to legislation that required warning labels on individual packs of cigarettes as well as a complete ban on radio and television advertisements for cigarettes (but no ban on print ads). After that, much of the regulation on tobacco was dealt with individually by state governments. In 2009, Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. It was this legislation that has led to the most recent ban on vaporizers, cigars and vapoziers.