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Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped veggies and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she disparaged him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb political statements" about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":


Page And Screen Make Peace In 'Mr. Penumbra'

Oct 3, 2012

It's been five years since the Amazon Kindle started one of the most enduring literary controversies of recent times: the fight between e-books and printed books. If you're a devoted reader, you're probably already sick of the back and forth between the excitable technophiles and the stubborn Luddites. The proponents of e-books rave about the unexplored avenues, the hypertext, the entire world of literature accessible with just one click. The rest of us — well, we like the way books feel and smell, OK? It might seem sentimental, but that's falling in love for you. Logic doesn't necessarily apply.

Of course it's a false dichotomy — there's room enough for all kinds of readers, and a great novel is a great novel, whether you're immersed in an old, yellowed paperback or the glowing screen on a smartphone. And there's really not that much daylight between the technology devotees who geek out about the latest operating system upgrade, and the old-school literature fans who know the name of every local bookstore cat. Whether your hero is Steve Jobs or Stephen Crane, we're all just in love with information and the power of the word — and that's the point Robin Sloan attempts to make in his debut novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, one of the most thoughtful and fun reading experiences you're likely to have this year.

Sloan's novel follows Clay Jannon, a young San Franciscan with a background in the tech industry, as he starts work at the titular bookstore, a mysterious establishment with comically tall shelves and a bizarre, infrequent clientele. Most of the store's customers don't buy books at all; they borrow a series of beautiful, cryptic volumes that contain nothing but grids of numbers. Clay recruits some fellow high-tech friends to try to figure out the secret behind the store and its curious proprietor, and they end up on the trail of what might be history's weirdest book club.

It's a convoluted plot that relies a little too heavily on convenient coincidences, but Sloan pulls it off with his extremely charismatic prose. He's a deeply funny writer: When the bookstore owner asks Clay if he owns a Kindle, "[i]t feels like it's the principal asking me if I have weed in my backpack." And when Clay builds a 3-D computer model of his new workplace, complete with simulated shadows and precise coordinates, he notes: "If this sounds impressive to you, you're over thirty." (Disclosure: It does, and I am.)

Sloan is new to the fiction game; he's spent his career as a "media inventor" working for companies like Current TV and Twitter. So it's not surprising that his book isn't flawless. Amid the insights ("We all come to life and gather allies and build empires and die, all in a single moment") and inspired observations ("This is the kind of store that makes you want to be a teenage wizard") are occasional groaners ("San Francisco is a good place for walks if your legs are strong") and descriptions too clever by half (a simple bagel becomes a "tasty toroid"). Perhaps the biggest problem with Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is its epilogue, which ties up the book's loose ends far too neatly. If it weren't for the perfectly rendered last paragraph, Sloan's closing pages could have been a disaster, badly marring an otherwise fine novel.

But there's so much large-hearted magic in the book, it seems almost petty to complain. Sloan is remarkably gifted and has an obviously deep affection for both literature and technology. (The "wizards" at Google play a key role in the book, though they do come in for some gentle ribbing.) He believes books and computers can complement each other, make each other better, make the world better, and he argues his case with the infectious fervor of a fanboy. At its best, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore reminds us of the miracle of reading, no matter how you choose to do it.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit