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On a Fall day more than 8 years ago, physicist Marcelo Gleiser and I sat in a coffee shop in Dartmouth and dreamed a little dream.

What if there were a place in the popular media where scientists could talk about science and culture in the broadest terms?

Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Apr 13, 2018

Born to Ugandan immigrants and raised in an academically-minded household, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine stunned his parents when he told them he wanted to pursue acting. "I really took years off their lives when they heard that," he told host Ophira Eisenberg. "It was a shock to the system."

Which Came First?

Apr 13, 2018

MTV or PBS? Mickey Mouse or Mickey Mantle? Captain Kangaroo or Cap'n Crunch? With victory on the line, contestants must determine which came first. It's a question as old as chickens. Or eggs.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Not What I Nintended

Apr 13, 2018

Blockbuster movies always get video game tie-ins, but sensitive art house films deserve cash-grab spinoffs too. We imagine what would happen if some unlikely movies were adapted into video games. See if you can identify the original movie, and, for a bonus point, program a fully-playable version for our office.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Power Ballads

Apr 13, 2018

It's time to feather your hair, layer on the schmaltz, and pack an extra phone charger: we rewrote classic power ballads to be about things that run on battery power. Ring in to identify what product Jonathan Coulton is singing about and, for a bonus point, name the song or artist he's parodying.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Mad Skillz

Apr 13, 2018

We've taken the liberty of drafting new LinkedIn profiles for famous people, all of whom have names that sound like jobs or occupations. Based on these revised, more literal career summaries, can you identify the celebrity? Make sure to keep your answers to one page, and choose your fonts carefully.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Ask Me Another Again Later

Apr 13, 2018

Step aside, IBM supercomputer Watson: The future of trivia is here, and it's a Magic 8-Ball. Host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton answer yes-or-no trivia questions, then compare their answers to those of the classic lo-fi toy.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

Guitar Heroes

Apr 13, 2018

For this audio quiz, we visited the Brooklyn Guitar School and recorded some enthusiastic, beginner guitar students as they attempted to shred some of their favorite tunes. Contestants ring in and identify what these future rock stars are playing.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

A Higher Loyalty, by far the most consequential book yet in the literature of the Trump presidency, is arriving as political conflict roils every aspect of that presidency. Former FBI Director James Comey's scathing review will not settle the arguments about President Trump, nor will it calm the controversy over its author. But it will furnish mountains of ammunition for combatants on all sides.

Warning: This episode contains obscenities and descriptions of sex and violence.

A lot of communities today are taking a hard stand against sexual harassment and assault. Using social media shaming, ostracism, professional excommunication, whatever punishment is painful enough to shift the moral code by brute force. Through one incident in the Richmond Virginia hardcore punk scene, Hanna Rosin, co-host of NPR's Invisibilia, chronicles a social media callout and asks what pain can accomplish.

"I'm — I'm literally vibrating with excitement."

That's it — that's when we knew. We had barely even introduced this week's fourth chair — charming host of NPR's Bullseye and podcast network mogul Jesse Thorn — when he volunteered how excited he was to discuss the venerable and venerated PBS staple Antiques Roadshow. If you know and love Jesse's smooth, sardonic persona from his show or his podcasts, you'll probably enjoy hearing him wax fanboy-passionate about objects that have a story — and about this very odd, and oddly appealing show.

The current furor over the Brooklyn Museum's appointment of a white woman to oversee the museum's African Art collection is not surprising or infuriating to Steven Nelson. Nelson is an African American art historian at UCLA who specializes in African art, and he says, "There are very few of us in the field."

The original Lost in Space, which ran on network television from 1965 to 1968, began as a straightforward, if high-concept, adventure show: A colony spaceship carrying a nuclear family, a dashing pilot and a sniveling doctor got stranded on a remote planet. They had adventures while wearing v-neck sweaters over their turtlenecks, presumably because Irwin Allen, who produced the show, imagined that the future would be a chilly place. Or maybe he got a deal on velour, who knows.

Early in the Swedish-made sports movie Borg vs. McEnroe, Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) ducks into a Monaco bar to escape a pack of screaming girls after practicing for an especially tricky upcoming Wimbledon championship. The tennis star is without his wallet, so he helps out schlepping boxes in return for a free espresso and tries to convince the bartender that he's an electrician by trade. The barkeep doesn't buy it, and really, who would when confronted with those chiseled facial bones, maximally toned leg muscles, and blond curls improbably squashed under a baseball cap?

In 2007, writer-director Tony Gilroy dispatched the protagonist of Michael Clayton, a cynical and corrupt law-firm fixer, to unravel a plot so grubby it made him look clean by comparison. Gilroy pursues the same strategy in the involving if somewhat predictable Beirut, which was directed by Brad Anderson.

There's a sequence in the documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami that follows the pop-art icon before, during, and after a pre-recorded TV performance she's giving in front of a studio audience in France. As she makes her way toward the stage in a black corset, high heels, and a lacy purple headdress that masks her eyes — an amusing contrast with the lumpen roadies and stagehands she greets along the way — Jones frets about the possibility of the set being tacky.

Eight seconds.

That's how long a rodeo cowboy has to stay on a bucking bronco to complete his ride. In writer/director Chloe Zhao's gorgeous and heartbeakingly humane new movie The Rider, she shows us how one such cowboy made it through those eight seconds — only to have his entire life transformed by what happened one second later.

For many poor families in America, eviction is a real and ongoing threat. Sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in the U.S. in 2016 — a rate of four every minute.

"Eviction isn't just a condition of poverty; it's a cause of poverty," Desmond says. "Eviction is a direct cause of homelessness, but it also is a cause of residential instability, school instability [and] community instability."

This post is my last for 13.7: Cosmos & Culture.

For 6 1/2 years, I have had the privilege and the pleasure of writing commentaries — about 50 every year — for NPR on animals, anthropology, human evolution, nature, gender and higher education.

The blog's science and culture commentary is being discontinued by NPR — and, so, it's time to say goodbye.

"Macbeth" is the most recognizable of Shakespeare's plays, a sort of Elizabethan suspense thriller filled with unforgettable and almost over-the-top moments: Witches brewing, villains handwringing, ghosts walking.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

If you or someone you know has tattoos, you might recognize this style of tattooing that's become really popular at the moment. It's called black and gray realism. Shereen Marisol Meraji from our Code Switch team looked into its roots.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

NECCO wafers are a polarizing candy. Some online haters have compared the brittle sugar disks to chalk, or antacid tablets. But now, the company that makes them could soon close shop — and that's brought out some of the candies' very loyal fans.

At Sugar Heaven in Somerville, Mass., David Sapers points out that there is a lot more NECCO on his shelves than just those controversial wafers. NECCO buttons and NECCO Sky Bars share shelf space with the classic wafers at his store.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

'Rampage' Lowers The Bar On Razing A City

Apr 11, 2018

Nearly four months have elapsed since the release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the latest two-titled PG-13 blockbuster headlined by Dwayne Johnson. The subject a of recent, glowing Rolling Stone profile that revealed he did not vote in 2016 but does not rule out running for the nation's swole-est office in the future, Johnson has somehow become America's most precious natural resource and its most abundant.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

We named our science and culture commentary 13.7: Cosmos & Culture when it launched nearly nine years ago.

At the time, the universe was believed to be 13.7 billion years old. But according to data released from the Planck satellite since, it took a bit longer: 13.8 billion years from the Big Bang to this blog.

Here's how it (the commentary, not the Big Bang) came to be:

One of the two women at the center of Meg Wolitzer's absorbing new novel, The Female Persuasion, is a legendary feminist named Faith Frank. Faith, who's in her 60s when the story begins, seems to be modeled on Gloria Steinem: She's charismatic, sexy and witty. We're told that Faith is not "a firebrand or a visionary; her talent was different. She could sift and distill ideas and present them in a way that made other people want to hear them."

When Melanie McNeil roused her 8-year-old great-grandson, Byron Ridenour-Wright, out of bed in Ohio last fall, and loaded him onto a bus bound for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, she didn't have high hopes for lunch.

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