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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!":


Shatter Every Window, Crash Through Every Wall

Sep 10, 2012
Originally published on September 10, 2012 8:46 am

T.C. Boyle's newest book is called San Miguel. It comes out this month.

When I was a teenager my reading was largely confined to liner notes (The Rolling Stones: England's Newest Hit Makers!), but at some point — later, rather than sooner — I stumbled across a book or two and got hooked. A whole panoply of things came rushing at me — Hemingway's stories, J.D. Salinger, Cannery Row, On the Road, Tolkien, Vonnegut — but it was Franz Kafka who really set my wheels spinning.

I remember a trade paperback that became a sort of talisman for me — yellow cover, the author's name emblazoned in red, and the mysterious title, with its hint of sadomasochistic titillation, peeking out from a black pennant in the upper left-hand corner: The Penal Colony. Here were stories like no others, stories so far out there they seemed to speak directly to my teen impulse to shatter every window and crash through every wall.

And it wasn't just "The Metamorphosis" that got to me (though who could resist that jaw-dropping first line, "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect"), but deeper and ever more twisted pieces like "A Hunger Artist," in which the protagonist, a professional faster, starves himself for the amusement of the crowd in a sideshow, or "A Report to an Academy," in which the speaker takes the podium to give an account of the life he "formerly led as an ape" or, for that matter, the triumphantly perverse title story.

"In the Penal Colony" tells the story of an unnamed explorer who is asked to witness an execution on a tropical island under military rule. But this isn't the quick dispatch of the gallows or firing squad, but rather an elaborate 12-hour ritual involving an infernal machine that carves the sentence into the victim's body by means of a series of needles that go progressively deeper until he's punctured all the way through.

In this case, the offense is dereliction of duty (the man fell asleep at his guard post) and the sentence to be corporeally inscribed is "Honor Thy Superiors!" There has been no trial and the condemned man is ignorant of the sentence, because, as the officer in charge explains, "There would be no point in telling him. He'll learn it on his body."

Let's just pause here a moment and think about that. And the fact that during the previous regime, when measures were more stringent, the needles employed acid to magnify the pain.

All right. I was a teenager. I was disdainful of authority, I embraced rock 'n' roll, I wanted to go toe-to-toe with the world, and maybe I didn't get the allegorical significance here, nor the biblical references to the arcane text left behind by the founding Commandant and the mindless adherence to tradition for tradition's sake... but I lapped up the pitch-black humor, the sheer outrageousness of the concept, of the officer's sang-froid and the needle-studded Harrow tirelessly repeating its message.

Kafka horrified me — deliciously — and he liberated me too. He showed me how words on a page could be as revolutionary as any guitar riff and opened up my imagination to a whole new range of subversive possibilities. Which was exactly what I needed to take on out into the adult world with me.

PG-13 is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Rose Friedman.

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