Slither and Hiss: Four Stories About Snakes

Longreads

This week, I’m sharing four stories about snakes and the people who love, hate, and tolerate them in equal measure. But first, a haiku:

Scary, beautiful
Important to religion
Slithering and scaled.

1. “The Pentecostal Serpent.” (Asher Elbein, The Bitter Southerner, September 2014)

An Atlanta zoo. A dusty office at the University of Tennessee. The mountains of Appalachia. A small church in Alabama. How has the life of the handled snake touched each of these?

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Have You Taken Your Daily Dose of Science?

Why? Because Science.

Hello possums!

I sincerely hope you’ve been doing your homework by keeping an eye on the new “Why? Because Science.” Here’s what’s been happening this week:

Amazing Science Video: Epic Rap Battle # 2 – You absolutely have to watch this CLASSIC and utterly hilarious staged battle between Sir Isaac Newton and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Look out for Neil DeGrasse Tyson towards the end!

Epic Rap battles of history

Blog Post: Life on Mars – Relocation, Relocation, Relocation! – Would YOU relocate to Mars? With soaring mountains, plummeting canyons, skiing at the polar ice caps and a 17km high volcano, your tourist itinerary would be full.

mars-landscape-deep-valleys

Daily Dose of Funny Science – Your Sciencey LOL of the day

Blog Post: Gravity and the Laws of Attraction, Somewhat Revised – How “heavy” is your attraction to your sexy crush? Figure it out using Newton’s elementary equation.

gravity and the laws of attractionIs the force strong with you?

Amazing Science Video:…

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Dawn Captures the Bestest Images Ever of “Hipster Planet” Ceres

Lights in the Dark

Animation of Ceres made from images acquired by Dawn on Jan. 25, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)Animation of Ceres made from images acquired by Dawn on Jan. 25, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This is the second animation from Dawn this year showing Ceres rotating, and at 43 pixels across the images are officially the best ever obtained!

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is now on final approach to the 590-mile-wide dwarf planet Ceres, the largest world in the main asteroid belt and the biggest object in the inner Solar System that has yet to be explored closely. And, based on what one Dawn mission scientist has said, Ceres could very well be called the Solar System’s “hipster planet.”

“Ceres is a ‘planet’ that you’ve probably never heard of,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We’re excited to learn all about it with Dawn and share our discoveries with the world.”

(Hmm… so does this mean Ceres has gone “mainstream?”)

Read the rest of this article on Universe Today here.

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What Street Suffixes Can Tell Us About Home Value and Neighborhood Size

Longreads

Next we looked at street suffixes — the “roads,” “drives” and “boulevards” — and found that, for instance, homes on “Washington Street” are usually different from homes on “Washington Court.”

For one thing, a house on Washington Street is probably older. Different street suffixes were popular at different moments. “Streets” and “avenues” were stylish in the 1950s, “ways,” “circles” and “courts” in the late ’80s.

Street suffixes also offer clues about the size of their neighborhood. Boulevards and avenues include the most homes on average, while courts and lanes include the fewest.

Most significant, suffixes have a lot to say about home prices. Homes on “streets” are almost always among the least valuable. If you’re looking for a higher-value home, you’re much more likely to find it on a “way” or a “place.”

Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries, writing for the New York Times. Rascoff and Humphries analyzed years…

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The “Word Problem” Problem

Math with Bad Drawings

Or, How to Avoid Thinking in Math Class, Part 4
(See Also Parts 1, 2, and 3)

20150128070352_00001

This speaks more to my naiveté as a first-year teacher than anything else, but I was shocked to find how fervently my students despised the things they called “word problems.”

“I hate these! What is this, an English lesson?”

“Can’t we do regular math?”

“Why are there words in math class?”

Their chorus: I’m okay with math, except word problems.

They treated “word problems” as some exotic and poisonous breed. These had nothing to do with the main thrust of mathematics, which was apparently to chug through computations and arrive at clean numerical solutions.

I was mystified—which is to say, clueless. Why all this word-problem hatred?

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How to Write Like George R. R. Martin

George RR Martin

Authors of genre fiction like George R. R. Martin have a lot to teach me and other aspiring writers, regardless of what genre(s) we find ourselves belonging to.

Here are three brilliant lessons I learned from A Song of Ice and Fire.

1. Keep it simple. Then build.

Martin has a big task with the opening of this series. He must introduce a huge cast of characters while giving readers enough tension to keep them moving forward. The first events in A Game of Thrones accomplish this in a very straightforward manner. We open with a scene that sets up a familiar fantasy world: a spoiled noble doesn’t listen to the experienced veteran. The party meets their untimely end, but the author breaks away from this glimpse of the Others and uses the reader’s wave of interest to introduce the Stark family and Daenerys. We get sketches of the…

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Recommended Reading: On Artistic Jealousy

I’m creepily reblogging everything now.

The Daily Post

Jealousy: competing against others or yourself can be a great motivator or a great source of frustration. Jealousy: competing against others or yourself can be a great motivator or a great source of frustration.

At varying times in our lives, we struggle with a particular emotion or vice. When someone mentions it, that word carries so much power, conjuring up all the things we’d prefer to hide about ourselves.

For me, the word is jealousy. Jealousy. A word with an unparalleled ability to force me to look right into the depths of myself, in exactly those places where I feel most vulnerable. It’s an excellent teacher, a terrible friend. Oh Jealousy, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

I’m a huge fan of the writer Esme Wang. While she’s written novels, stories, articles, and more, I primarily come into contact with her through her blog, where she writes incredibly sincere and insightful essays on what it means to be a writer, an artist…

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