This comic book store comes with its own hero: its barrier-breaking owner.

Ariell Johnson is a geek of the most righteous variety.

And she's embraced that part of her identity more and more over the last 12 years.


Photo by Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse/Facebook, used with permission.

"Don't let the packaging fool you," she said in a presentation for Ignite Philly. "I know that people who look like me aren't necessarily what you think of when you hear the word 'geek.' ... Though we are a rare breed, we are definitely not a dying one."

When the Philadelphian comic book enthusiast was a student at Temple University, she enjoyed her downtime ritual of comics and coffee.

"My favorite coffee shop was directly across the street from my comic book store of choice," she told Philadelphia Daily News. "Each Friday, I would buy my books at Fat Jack's, go across the street to Crimson Moon, and read everything I bought."

Johnson was disappointed to learn one day that the coffee shop was brewing its final pot and going out of business. But the seed of an idea was planted, and it's finally blossomed.

As we closed the door on 2015, Johnson opened the doors to her very own shop: Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse.

She beamed in an interview with Upworthy: "January second marked our first big day in sales. It was awesome! So many people milling around the shop, grabbing seats, reading, and chatting with friends, it was my dream fully realized. It was the moment that I really felt like creating this store was the thing I was meant to do."

It was everything she'd ever wanted in a geek haunt, all under one roof.

Comics? Check. Games? Check. Coffee and baked goods? Check.

Nothing pairs with lemon cake like a demonic tale. Photo by Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse/Facebook, used with permission.

There's one other thing that sets Amalgam apart from its competitors: its mission.

The most popular comics haven't been the best reflection of the world's diversity. FiveThirtyEight reported that in comic books, women and girls make up only 1 in 4 characters. And NPR wrote, "While there are lots of brown superpeople in the fictional universes that these heroes inhabit, they're usually tertiary characters."

As she is believed to be the first black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast, Johnson wants Amalgam to be a place that builds community by celebrating diversity.

"We live in a diverse world. People want to see themselves in the stories that they read and watch, and not just as a token or a convenient stereotype," she said.

"A lack of diversity reinforces the idea that white, straight, and male is the norm, and everything else is 'different.' ... That is extremely harmful psychologically, especially for children, but for adults, too."

In the near term, she wants to start hosting community events — especially ones that involve local youth. Shortly after opening, Johnson was approached by a teen for feedback on a story he was writing.

"I honestly had to fight tears the whole time I was reading," she said. "The fact that this young man thought that I was someone that he needed to share his story with was overwhelming and exciting."

The touching experience affirmed for her that she wants to launch creative workshops for young people to use comics as a medium to share their stories.

When I asked Johnson about her longer-term goals, she wasn't sure how to answer. But given the barriers she's already breaking and her vision of helping others do the same, I'd say she's on the right track.

Watch Ariell Johnson's presentation on diversity in comics for Ignite Philly:

Johnson's comic book picks for the kids: "Tiny Titans," "Itty Bitty Hellboy," "Lumberjanes," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

And for the grown-ups new to geekdom: "V for Vendetta," "Watchmen," and "Saga."

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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