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March 17, 2013 | 7:03 a.m.

Comet Pan-STARRS? Meh. Just wait till you see Comet ISON

Comet Lovejoy in 2011
Comet Pan-STARRS has wowed observers all over the Northern Hemisphere and should continue to be visible, experts say, through the end of the month. It’s not too late to eyeball it — but if you miss it, don’t fret. As far as 2013 comets go, this one was only second best. Coming our way in November is (drumroll) Comet ISON. Don’t get me wrong. Pan-STARRS has been fun. NASA put together a view of the comet worth seeing. It was captured by the STEREO-B spacecraft orbiting the sun and shows a “quite complex” tail as the comet moves between Mercury and Earth.  If you still want to see the comet, as Forbes recommends, your best bet is to go somewhere with the least light pollution possible, then about half an hour after sunset look toward the west. The comet should […]
March 12, 2013 | 4:00 p.m.

Curiosity finds ancient Mars habitable. Now, the bigger question.

The Mars rover Curiosity has accomplished a primary mission objective in discovering that ancient Mars could have supported life. Now, scientists wonder whether they can unearth the story of Mars’ transformation from a wet, possibly life-supporting planet to the red dust bowl it has become.  What happened on Mars? NASA scientists hope to find clues in Gale Crater.  Unlike other parts of Mars, it has been found to have the properties that could have supported life on ancient Mars. The rock recently explored by Curiosity shows “neutral pH, chemical gradients that would have created energy for microbes and a distinctly low salinity, which would have helped metabolism if microorganisms had ever been present,” the space agency says. Scientists were fortunate — and smart — in their choice of Gale Crater as a landing site. But Mt. Sharp was the main […]
March 05, 2013 | 7:40 a.m.

Batman nabs suspect, reveals his true identity: Takeout delivery guy

The Batman of DC Comics, nothing like the 'Batman' who turned his pal in at a U.K. police station
Batman appeared at a police station in England with a criminal suspect in tow, and the world blinked. Batman — otherwise known as Stan Worby, Chinese-takeout delivery man — told a British TV news program that he was “gobsmacked” by the widespread reaction to the Feb. 25 episode. Worby told ITV’s “Daybreak” that it was simply a “practical joke” between himself and the friend he took to the police station. You see, he’d been dressed as Batman for a soccer match at Wembley Stadium.  Note: This was not a Christopher Nolan Batman but an Adam West-style Batman (at left, in case you need a refresher). After the match, a friend asked him to accompany him to the police station to turn himself in. Worby told the Daily Telegraph he’d been trying to “knock some sense into” his friend Danny Frayne, […]
March 01, 2013 | 1:50 p.m.

Obama dismisses ‘Jedi mind meld’ to solve sequester

An image sent out by the White House on Twitter following Obama's "Jedi mind meld" remark. Credit: White House
As Congress, the president and the nation grapple with the so-called sequester and the possible harrowing effects of billions of dollars in automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts, there’s one thing Congress doesn’t have to worry about: President Obama performing a Jedi mind meld.  The president has indicated that he cannot go to those lengths. It’s just as well. The ability to connect minds “so closely as to act as a single person” is likely the kind of presidential power that no Founding Father (or Vulcan) would ever allow. The president made the sci-fi reference — a combination of a “Star Wars” term and a “Star Trek” term — on Friday when he spoke to reporters following a failed meeting with top congressional leaders to avoid the sequestration cuts — $85 billion worth — that will likely go into effect at […]
Feb. 20, 2013 | 11:21 a.m.

Zombie foreclosures: Not a monster, but a monster of a headache

Zombie foreclosure? Guess again.
Zombie foreclosures??? In the words of “South Park’s” Sheila Broflovski: “What? What? Whaaat?” The Internets were all abuzz Wednesday morning over zombie foreclosures. Does that mean zombies are skipping out on their mortgages? Biters ain’t paying their bills? It really does not sound like a good “Walking Dead” episode if Rick Grimes were to get a real estate license and start offering foreclosure guidance to reanimated corpses. That’s really not what zombie foreclosures are anyway. What are they? CNN explains it this way:  It’s when a borrower moves out of his or her home after the bank schedules a foreclosure auction — then finds out months or even years later that the foreclosure auction never took place or that the bank failed to transfer the deed to the house.  Thus, the borrower is still technically the homeowner and “on the […]
Feb. 18, 2013 | 2:25 p.m.

Cartoons, characters linked to kids’ bad behavior: Power Rangers again

Power Rangers, marking their 20th year, at the 2013 International  Toy Fair in New York
A new study on children’s behavior has found that certain TV programming beats other programming when you’re trying to calm aggressive, violent behavior in preschoolers. And once again, the Power Rangers were among the evildoers.  Power Rangers bad. Dora, and presumably her monkey Boots, good. What it comes down to is, less violent programming equals less violent preschoolers.  Parents who are always in search of quality animated films and TV shows for their kids may be tempted to reply, “Duh.”  What’s different about this new study was the emphasis on switching channels rather than simply pulling the cord out of the wall. As the Los Angeles Times’ Monte Morin reports, researchers are saying parents should steer children in the right direction. “It is a variation on the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em’ idea,” Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at […]
Feb. 14, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Fire Emblem: Awakening’ review: Swords kill, love hurts

'Fire Emblem: Awakening' featured image
Ten hours into “Fire Emblem: Awakening,” and still no wedding. This was a cause of great panic. “Fire Emblem: Awakening,” released earlier this month for Nintendo’s handheld 3DS, is a fantasy war game, but it’s also concerned with matters of the heart. Sure, there are great axes, fantastic lightning spells and there’s even more than one gorgeous flying Pegasus. And when it comes to fights, there’s evil sorcerers, slimy monsters and all sorts of beasts that look borrowed from Mordor. But beyond the “Dungeons & Dragons” stuff, this is really about the strategic game of love. Amid the troop assignments and battle positioning, there’s even more awkward encounters between characters. One of them, for instance, may happen to stumble upon another mid-bath. This, ultimately, is a game of personality management. Was my no-nonsense, purple-haired Kes, a female magician-sword-fighter, too weird or […]
Feb. 09, 2013 | 8:30 a.m.

Where can I watch ‘Walking Dead’ Season 3?

A scene from "The Walking Dead," Season 3, Episode 1 Credit: Gene Page/AMC
“The Walking Dead” will resume its third season at 9 p.m. Sunday on AMC with the episode “The Suicide King,” blessed relief for fans who have been shambling in zombie limbo during the show’s midseason break. Show runner Glen Mazzara spoke with Hero Complex in a two-part interview about the remainder of the season, promising more surprises for diehard fans — and warning that, should the story demand their deaths, no character is safe. PREVIEW: Season 3 episodes | RECAP: ‘Made to Suffer’ “We’ve already deviated from the Governor’s [comic] storyline in interesting ways; it’s a matter of continuing to tell that story and being honest and true to the essence of what’s there,” Mazzara said. “But comic book fans will not be able to guess what’s coming.” It’s been a long wait for “Dead” devotees, who were informed during […]
Feb. 08, 2013 | 12:20 p.m.

Zombie quiz: Prove you’re smarter than a zombie

As the midseason return of “The Walking Dead” nears, here’s a quiz — with plenty of George Romero — to test your zombie IQ.
Feb. 06, 2013 | 1:52 p.m.

Sasquatch 2013: Mumford & Sons and some geek highlights

Just some of the performers scheduled for the Sasquatch festival, via Live Nation.
Sasquatch the music festival, scarcely as elusive as its namesake, has unveiled its lineup, and topping the bill at the annual alt-music event are folk-rock stars Mumford & Sons, the Postal Service (reunited) and rap act Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. There are 108 artists and nine comedians scheduled to appear at the festival, from May 24 to 27 at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, Wash. But as fans are busy flipping through the Sasquatch lineup, we’d like to point out some performers that the geek crowd in particular can appreciate. Here are some intricately produced videos created by some Sasquatch performers that touch on sci-fi, horror and animation. Twin Shadow, which is on the bill, created the video for “Five Seconds.”  It is inspired by frontman George Lewis Jr.’s own foray into science fiction, a novel titled “The Night of […]
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