The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


David Rees: Sharper Than A Pencil

Feb 6, 2013
Originally published on February 9, 2013 1:22 pm

To David Rees, sharpening a pencil is far more than a mundane task — it's an art. After the cartoonist, author and writer discontinued his satirical comic Get Your War On — which ran in Rolling Stone until 2009 — he discovered a love of the school-age writing utensil while working for the U.S. Census Bureau. Rees now specializes in artisanal pencil sharpening, offering "really sharp" pencils sculpted with the use of box cutters, pen knives, sanding blocks, and other objects. If you're looking to revisit the joys of a hand-sharpened pencil, look no further than his new book, How To Sharpen Pencils.

Rees takes a break from cranking out his product to chat with Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg and explain what exactly customers can expect to receive from him. Each package comes complete with a sharpened pencil in a protective case, the shavings, and a label showing the tools he used to sharpened the pencil, among other things. "It's like this whole suite of objects that they can either choose to utilize, or share with friends as an inspirational talisman or conversation piece." He adds, "I've found a void and turned it into a niche." So we thought it would be only fair to pit Rees against a man after his own heart — fellow pencil enthusiast and sculptor Dalton M. Ghetti — for an Ask Me Another Challenge. The stakes? The loser must sharpen the winner's pencil. Find out who's No. 1, and who's No. 2.

About David Rees

David Rees first came to fame as the author of Get Your War On, a Bush-era comic strip composed from clip-art that he emailed to friends. It was eventually serialized by Rolling Stone magazine, collected into three successful books, and turned into an off-Broadway play. He is also the author of the workplace satire My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable. He lives in Beacon, New York.

In the video below, Rees demonstrates a step-by-step process for the perfectly-sharpened pencil.

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