In 2005 I wrote a review of George R. R. Martin's novel, A Feast for Crows, in which I called him "the American Tolkien." That phrase has stuck to him, which is what I meant it to do. I think Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is the great epic of our era. It's an epic for a more profane, more sardonic, more ambivalent age than the one Tolkien lived in. Tolkien was a veteran of the Somme, and wrote during Word War II, when it really seemed like the fate of civilization was hanging in the balance. Now we can't even agree on what civilization is.
Two new specialty license plates have been approved by the Transportation Cabinet. One tag supports the Alzheimer’s Association, while the second carries the slogan “In God We Trust” with a backdrop of the American flag. Kentucky already has a regular plate with the “In God We Trust” slogan”. But MaryAnn Gramig, who’s president of the ROCK Cares Foundation which sponsors the new plate, says it bolsters a spiritual message.
American astronaut Leroy Chiao gives a thumbs up during the ride from a suit-up facility in Kazakhstan in 2004. The mission took Chiao to the International Space Station and was his last trip into space before retiring in 2005.
There are 30 years between the bookends of the first and last NASA space shuttle flights. In those three decades, the shuttles Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour flew well over 100 missions.
But this summer, the program draws to a close to allow the space agency to dedicate more funding and energy to exploring the farther reaches of space. In the process, NASA hands over greater responsibility to private space companies.
Jose Antonio Vargas works in his New York City apartment May 26. Vargas, a journalist, has revealed to the public that he is an illegal immigrant.
Credit Bonnie Jo Mount / Courtesy of The Washington Post
At the age of 12, Jose Antonio Vargas was taken to an airport in the Philippines, loaded onto a plane and shipped to the United States to live with his grandparents. For four years, he lived in California without knowing he was here illegally.
But when Vargas was 16 and tried to get his driver's permit at the D.M.V, a clerk whispered to him that his green card was fake — and that he shouldn't return to the D.M.V.
A Caterpillar Excavator at Dig This. Dig This let's park attendees drive and operate construction equipment.
Credit Ted Robbins / NPR
Las Vegas just opened up a new playground, but it's not for children.
It's called Dig This, and it claims to be the first heavy-equipment playground — as in construction equipment.
Before riding, participants attend a safety and equipment orientation. The park is also staffed with instructors, like Phil Chavez who is a former construction worker. Chavez can communicate with riders over a wireless headset, and just to be extra safe, he has a kill switch in case a machine gets out of control.