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.


Ravens Are Super Bowl Underdogs, But Are Stats On Their Side?

Feb 1, 2013
Originally published on February 1, 2013 1:09 pm



The Baltimore Ravens are the underdogs in this Sunday's Super Bowl, going up against the San Francisco 49ers. Now, there have been bigger underdogs. And yes, the Ravens are not the lowest-seeded team to make it to the Super Bowl. But the Ravens have beaten the odds in another way. NPR's Mike Pesca talked to some football numbers guys and has this report.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: The Ravens embrace the role of the underdog at the same time that they scoff at the very notion. Here's wide receiver Jacoby Jones who two games ago made a 70 yard touchdown reception against the Broncos with 31 seconds left in the game.

JACOBY JONES: No, that just lets you know, you got to play till the clock says all zeros, you know? So that don't really - that's why, when that play happened, we just said, let's be great. Every time we make a big play, we always go in the huddle and say let's be great.

PESCA: Jones said the following fact did not surprise him because football players don't look at stats. As well they shouldn't, but here goes. If you were to take the most dire moments in the Ravens' post-season run, trailing by that touchdown in Denver with 30 seconds left, down six on the road in New England in the first round game against the Colts that wasn't decided until late, and then calculate their cumulative chances of winning all three games, you get the following number.

PAUL BESSIRE: They had about a 1 in 950 chance to be able to pull that off.

PESCA: That's Paul Bessire, a statistician who runs, which generates in-game odds of a team's chances of success. Bessire's machine - think more like a laptop than the Whopper from "War Games" - takes into account the strengths of each team and the situation to make calculations. The Ravens were down to a 1.4 percent chance of winning in that Broncos game.

Brian Burke, a former fighter pilot turned stats guru who runs, has a slightly different method of in-game calculation. He's loaded into his machine every game ever played in the past dozen years and can compute the odds of a comeback given any score, time, down and distance. He says the Ravens had all of a 2 percent chance of winning that Denver game.

Burke put the Ravens odds of being in New Orleans as calculated from the most dire point in each game at 1 in 625. Compared to every other team to make the Super Bowl, Burke says of the Ravens...

BRIAN BURKE: Yeah, they're the least likely, by a factor of about 2 to 1.

PESCA: Burke notes, however, that if you take into account amazing comebacks in the Super Bowl itself, the 2007 Giants become the team that beat the greatest odds. That distinction did not surprise Amani Toomer, a wide out on that Giants team.

AMANI TOOMER: Players are the ultimate optimists and you have to be that way because just the odds to make it into the NFL as an individual player is extraordinary. Then the odds to stay healthy a whole entire season are extraordinary. So we've been beating stats as football players our entire lives.

PESCA: In the Super Bowl's first three decades, there were no winning teams that had amazing comebacks to rival the Giants or these Ravens. However, the 1988 San Francisco 49ers dodged some bullets in an unusual way. Those '9ers with one more regular season loss wouldn't have made the playoffs, and they had a number of fourth quarter come-from-behind wins. 49er receiver Jerry Rice, it may not surprise you, was never really nervous.

JERRY RICE: I love when everything is on the line because that brings out your best football, and you know, we were able to always put points on the board or win a football game that we had time on the clock.

PESCA: Rice, who was promoting SAP business software, went on to say that great players love it when the game is on the line late and certainly members of the Ravens won't be intimidated if that's the case on Sunday. Of course they'd probably also take a situation like Jerry Rice's other two Super Bowl victories, where his team beat its opponents by a combined 68 points. Mike Pesca, NPR News, New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.