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.


What Is It About Emily?

Feb 12, 2013
Originally published on February 12, 2013 3:46 pm

What is it about Emily? She's so happily, totally into dead things. She's got this T-shirt that says "Everything Is Dead"; she's the host of a video series on YouTube called The Brain Scoop, and that's where I saw her the other day, driving around Montana looking for a frozen wolf carcass. The wolf had been hit by a car. In this YouTube episode, she isn't sure about the pickup address, so she pulls out her cellphone and by mistake calls LensCrafters, the eyeglass store, and she says, "Hi ... I'm on my way to pick up a wolf that Liz said she was holding for us." There's a pause. "A wolf," she says, more quietly. "It's in the freezer." Another pause. Then, "Oh ... sorry."

Sipping Alcohol

Emily Graslie is a volunteer curatorial assistant at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the University of Montana — which means when she's not taking photos, baking or playing the violin, she's skinning wolves, dissecting or watching beetle larvae eat the dead muscle off a bear skull. She's got these sassy beetle-shaped earrings, and when she's sitting in the museum basement surrounded by jars and jars and jars of dead slugs, turtles, bats, pack rats, fish (including a two-headed one), an elk embryo and a shark, she makes me want to crawl through the screen and sit right next to her because she's having so much fun. (She has real friends, of course, live ones, museum associates and her boss, Dave Dyer, who is briefly seen sipping from an alcohol jar jammed with what look like preserved rodents.) I'll say this for Missoula biologists — they know how to have fun.

So check Emily out — this is her inspection tour of the museum's storage room, where you learn about exploding lead jars that have sharks in them.

A word about Emily's earrings. For reasons not entirely clear to me, people find it unpleasant to see beetles, wasps or ants hanging off other people's ears, but Emily, in this and many other things, is a pioneer. Her oversized beetle earrings are her way of saying bugs can be beautiful, even when they are three inches from one's mouth. She's celebrating biodiversity.

Which gives me the chance to mention other bold forays into insect-inspired fashion, like this elegant carryall from Japan, called the Backpack Mega-cockroach. It would take a brave soul to wear one of these in a subway or bus. I don't know how you open it, there must be a zipper somewhere, but somehow, I'd rather not look to closely.

And, in a very different vein, here are some insects and spiders — little jewels — from Justin Gershenson-Gates of A Mechanical Mind in Chicago. "I take dead old watches," he says, "disassemble and clean them, then rearrange their bits and widgets into whimsical designs." These bugs are extraordinarily beautiful, probably because you can sense that they were once the innards of old timepieces. I especially like the spiders with light bulbs.

These critters are so fabulous, I can imagine Emily's museum creating a special cabinet to house them, with elaborate scientific names and brief descriptors like "Highly Evolved 'Bulb-Spiders' Found Hiding In Reading Lamps."

Because Justin "found" them, they'd all carry his name, Archaearanea justingershon-gatesiorum. But the wildlife videos, describing their mating habits? They'd all be done by Emily.

I didn't know this until my editor, Andrew, mentioned it, but Emily's sister, Serri, is an NPR employee. Andrew tells me she's Emily's older sister, which probably means the earrings she wears, if she wears any, are a touch more conservative. But in the interest of journalistic transparency, you should know we have a Graslie in the house.

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