It's been a few decades, and many published books, but Robert Crais can tell you exactly when mystery writing first caught his attention: He was a bright 15-year-old living in Baton Rouge, La., when he read Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, which depicted the shady side of sunny Los Angeles through the eyes of private investigator Philip Marlowe.
Since then, Crais has found huge success with his own crime novels, also set in LA. The city is the perfect canvas for a modern mystery, and Crais' eyes still grow wide when he talks about what Chandler painted on it.
There's a growing interest in what our genes say about our health. And in recent years, quite a few companies have sprung up to help us listen with the help of personalized DNA tests.
For a few hundred dollars and a vial of spit, these companies will search your DNA for sequences that predict your physical traits, your response to certain drugs and your risk for any number of diseases.
It's one of the ultimate images of summer: a woman in a short, pink slip sits on a bed, her knees pulled up to her chest, gazing out a window. Her hair is tucked back into a bun. Her bare arms rest lightly on her bare legs.
Edward Hopper painted her in 1952 for a work called Morning Sun. The picture has been widely reproduced for decades. But on a recent visit to its home at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio, it was nowhere to be found.
Six years ago, we told you about a woman, identified as A.J., who could remember the details of nearly every day of her life. At the time, researchers thought she was unique. But since then, a handful of such individuals have been identified. And now, researchers are trying to understand how their extraordinary memories work.
Attorneys Cheryl Curtis and her husband, Dana Foster, live in Washington, D.C., and donate generously to a nearby nonprofit that helps low-income residents. "Now that I have more, I want to give to organizations that provide just basic food for people," Curtis says.
Ever wonder how charitable the people are who live in your state or community? It turns out that lower-income people tend to donate a much bigger share of their discretionary incomes than wealthier people do. And rich people are more generous when they live among those who aren't so rich.
Roxana Castro sits in an orange chair in the waiting room at Mary's Center in Washington, D.C. She's 17, and expecting a baby boy next month. The pregnancy was a surprise, she says, mostly for her parents, but also for the baby's father.
Even with her mother's help, Castro admits she's nervous. The father of the baby says he'll be there, but she knows this is a big responsibility, and says she's not ready to start a family just yet.
"A baby is so fragile," she says. "I don't know how to take care of it or anything."
A disabled and orphaned Romanian child in his bed at the Targu Jiu orphanage in southwestern Romania in 2009. Romania has, in general, improved conditions in orphanages that provoked outrage when they were exposed internationally nearly a quarter-century ago. However, some 70,000 kids are still in the care of the state.
Credit Thomas Coex / AFP/Getty Images
Under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, handicapped and orphaned children were neglected, unbathed and malnourished in orphanages throughout the country. This photo shows orphans at a state institution in Grandinari, Romania in 1989, the year Ceaucescu was overthrown and killed.
Credit Isabel Ellsen / Corbis
Romanian orphanages were routinely overcrowded and children often lacked toys, as was the case at Bucharest's Number One Orphanage in 1991. A new law should make adoptions a bit easier. However, adoptions remain relatively rare.
Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 5:14 pm
First of two stories
The 1989 overthrow and execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu provided the first glimpse of a country that had been mostly closed to the outside world — and many of the scenes were appalling.
Among the most disturbing were images of tens of thousands of abandoned children suffering abuse and neglect in Romania's orphanages. Many were confined to cribs, wallowing in their own filth and facing mental health issues.
As a living history museum, Strawbery Banke allows visitors to tour historic buildings constructed between 1695 and 1954.
Credit Amanda Loder / for NPR
Re-enactor Alena Shellenbean plays Mrs. Shapiro, a Jewish-Ukranian immigrant from the early 1900's and one of the historic characters populating Strawbery Banke.
Credit Amanda Loder / New Hampshire Public Radio
Tom Richter moved to Strawbery Banke so that he could concentrate on creating a new album of folk songs based on imagery of historic Portsmouth, N.H.
Credit Amanda Loder / New Hampshire Public Radio
Eva Boice moved to Strawbery Banke from New York to be closer to her family. A retired social studies teacher, she appreciates the nuances of her new home, like the mismatched paint on her door panel. During renovations, contractors uncovered paint layers dating to the early 1800s.
All it takes to enter a time warp in New Hampshire is $15 and a summer afternoon. Spanning more than 250 years of American history, Strawbery Banke is the oldest neighborhood in the state's oldest city, Portsmouth.
It's kind of like Virginia's Colonial Williamsburg — lite. Stationed inside many of the 37 homes are re-enactors in different period garb. Inside a hulking white house, it's 1872.
In just a few weeks, we will mark the seventh anniversary of one of the country's deadliest hurricanes. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the devastating damage and loss of life caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — the storm that would follow.