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.


Justice Clarence Thomas Speaks, Many Listen; But What Was He Saying?

Jan 15, 2013
Originally published on January 15, 2013 11:33 am

"Well — he did not --"

Just four words.

No one's sure what he meant.

But just the fact that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was heard saying them Monday is news. After all, the famously silent justice has not asked a question from the High Court's bench since Feb. 22, 2006.

So what prompted him to, according to The New York Times, actually lean forward and speak into his microphone?

SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein reports that:

"Most of the Justices were in a lighthearted mood [Monday]. There was a lot of banter between them. At one point, the questioning turned to whether the petitioner — a capital defendant — had 'competent' counsel. Justice [Antonin] Scalia made the rhetorical point that his lawyer was impressive because she had gone to Yale. Chuckling, Justice Thomas interjected (as I heard it, imperfectly) that fact might make the lawyer 'incompetent.' In context, no one could think that the line was a genuine attack on Yale. Justice Thomas is a Yale graduate, and he was making a self-deprecating comment."

The official transcript of the exchange does not include Thomas saying the word "incompetent." It only quotes him as saying "well — he did not --."

Still, even without the word "incompetent," The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin thinks that the "gist of Thomas's joke ... appears to be that graduation from Yale is a sign of incompetence." And, Toobin adds:

"If that's what Thomas said — and I bet it was — the wisecrack comes with a long history. For many years, Thomas viewed Yale with undisguised hostility. The gist of his complaint was that he was admitted under an affirmative-action program — and, as a result, suffered from a stigma that tainted his judicial career. 'I couldn't get a job out of Yale Law School,' he told an interviewer in 1998, 'That's how much good it did me. I think I'll send the degree back.' As I noted in The Nine, Thomas had a 'Yale Sucks' bumper sticker on the mantle in his chambers for a time."

SCOTUSBlog's Goldstein, though, thinks Thomas's comment is a sign that the justice is getting more comfortable with his Yale connection:

"I think the psychoanalysis of this one sentence is ridiculous. But if you were trying to divine anything from it, I suppose I'd say it shows the Justice's greater comfort with his relationship with Yale, which is growing both generally and through Professor Akhil Amar individually. In my opinion, the joke was made in the voice of a person who was very comfortable associating himself with the institution."

The Times' Adam Liptak, meanwhile, writes that "the transcript supports the view that Justice Thomas made an actual point" because the "lawyer at the lectern, a Louisiana prosecutor named Carla S. Sigler, responded, 'I would refute that, Justice Thomas,' indicating that he had articulated a proposition capable of refutation." But Liptak also refers to whatever it was Thomas was saying as a joke overall — and "probably evidence of a recent warming trend between Justice Thomas and the law school, from which he graduated in 1974."

Only at the Supreme Court would so few words lead to so much discussion.

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