News of the Week: The Red Planet, a Black Burger, and Apple Brown Betty

There’s Water on Mars

3D render of the planet Mars. (Shutterstock)
3D render of the planet Mars. (Shutterstock)

Maybe all of the science fiction writers like Ray Bradbury who picked Mars for their stories of life on other worlds were on to something.

The world got excited earlier this week when NASA announced at a press conference that they had found evidence of liquid water on the red planet. John M. Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science, says that space agency might send probes to the planet in the 2020s to look for life. This doesn’t mean we’re going to find Vulcans or Ewoks or those aliens from The X-Files any time soon, but the very fact that water is there shows that life could exist beyond our world.

A lot of jokes were made online about this news being great PR for the new Matt Damon movie The Martian, and director Ridley Scott revealed that he actually knew about the water news a few months ago, but it came too late to add it to the movie.

This was a big week for space. We also had the rare confluence of a lunar eclipse and a supermoon, which made for some fantastic photos.

The Truth? Yup, Still Out There

Speaking of The X-Files, Fox released a full trailer for the reboot of the popular ’90s series, which debuts in January. Looks good, with a plot that mixes the old alien storyline (with Cigarette Smoking Man!) with recent concerns about surveillance and privacy.

Burger King’s Black Burger

That’s a slightly misleading title, because it’s actually the bun that’s black.

Burger King has announced a special Halloween Whopper, which bakes A1 Steak Sauce into the bun to make it turn black. Ooooooo, scary! The fast-food chain has already been selling colored burger buns (including red) in Japan for a while. Get it now though. Based on the #HalloweenWhopper hashtag it’s for a limited time only.

You can wash down that burger with another new Burger King creation, the Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake, which sounds healthy.

The New Daily Show

What happens when you replace a popular comedy news program host who held the job for 16 years and was beloved by fans? Well, not much it turns out.

Trevor Noah took over for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show this week, and except for a handful of people who won’t accept change or are too quick to judge, he was greeted warmly. He’s doing fine. Noah’s a very different host than Stewart but the show is pretty much the same: an anchor giving the news, fake reporters giving their perspective, and then a celebrity interview. Well, they did change the font but I think people will get used to that.

I still miss Craig Kilborn though.

OMG Facebook Was Down!

dolphfyn /
dolphfyn /

I happened to be on Twitter when Facebook went down earlier this week (I’m on one of my occasional “let’s see what’s on Twitter” experiments, though I’m trying to stay off it), and it’s funny what happens when the world’s most popular social networks goes down. Everyone goes on Twitter to talk about not being able to go on Facebook. I’d hate to see what would happen if Twitter happens to be down the same time Facebook is down. MY GOD HOW CAN I EXPRESS MYSELF?

This is the third time that Facebook has gone down in the past three weeks. No word on why it has been happening or how many people were affected worldwide, but millions of people were in PANIC MODE for a few hours. How will the world know what I had for dinner? Where will I post pictures of my dog? How will I learn about the crazy political opinions of family and friends I thought I knew? To show how important Facebook has become, the cable networks actually had BREAKING NEWS alerts when the site went down.

I would say that if you actually get upset or irritated or antsy, even just a little, when Facebook goes down, that might be a sign you need to take a break from it.

As for Twitter, they’re thinking about getting rid of their 140-character limit on tweets.

National Apple Betty Day


It’s this Monday. Now, I’ve heard of Apple Brown Betty but not Apple Betty. Are they the same thing, an apple dessert similar to a cobbler or a crisp? Whatever you call it, it’s fall and that’s the time for this sort of thing, with the nutmeg and the cinnamon and the apples filling your home with smells that remind you, hey, I really have to start my Christmas shopping soon.

Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart (with video, because Martha is always thorough), and here’s one from an issue of Better Homes and Gardens from the 1970s that uses orange juice.

Apple Betty was a favorite dessert of the Reagans when they were in the White House. But adding jellybeans to the recipe is not recommended.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

World Animal Day (October 4)
The annual celebration is always on October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

President Rutherford B. Hayes born (October 4, 1822)
The 19th president banned all alcohol from the White House.

Soviet Union launches Sputnik (October 4, 1957)
The launch of the first artificial satellite freaked out a lot of people and launched the Space Race.

First nationally televised presidential speech (October 5, 1947)
President Harry S. Truman made the speech from the White House, even though there were only some 44,000 TV sets in the U.S. at the time. (President Franklin Roosevelt appeared on TV in 1939 but it was only broadcast at the New York World’s Fair and at Radio City Music Hall.)

The Great Chicago Fire starts (October 8, 1871)
The often-repeated story is that a cow started the fire by knocking over a lantern in a barn, but that actually might not be true.