Art, Science, and Writing





Birds look totally demented when they take dirt baths and I love it.

Q: Do I have to kill the snake?
A: University guidelines state that you have to “defeat” the snake. There are many ways to accomplish this. Lots of students choose to wrestle the snake. Some construct decoys and elaborate traps to confuse and then ensnare the snake. One student brought a flute and played a song to lull the snake to sleep. Then he threw the snake out a window.

Q: Does everyone fight the same snake?
A: No. You will fight one of the many snakes that are kept on campus by the facilities department.

Q: Are the snakes big?
A: We have lots of different snakes. The quality of your work determines which snake you will fight. The better your thesis is, the smaller the snake will be.

Q: Does my thesis adviser pick the snake?
A: No. Your adviser just tells the guy who picks the snakes how good your thesis was.

Q: What does it mean if I get a small snake that is also very strong?
A: Snake-picking is not an exact science. The size of the snake is the main factor. The snake may be very strong, or it may be very weak. It may be of Asian, African, or South American origin. It may constrict its victims and then swallow them whole, or it may use venom to blind and/or paralyze its prey. You shouldn’t read too much into these other characteristics. Although if you get a poisonous snake, it often means that there was a problem with the formatting of your bibliography.

Q: When and where do I fight the snake? Does the school have some kind of pit or arena for snake fights?
A: You fight the snake in the room you have reserved for your defense. The fight generally starts after you have finished answering questions about your thesis. However, the snake will be lurking in the room the whole time and it can strike at any point. If the snake attacks prematurely it’s obviously better to defeat it and get back to the rest of your defense as quickly as possible.

Q: Would someone who wrote a bad thesis and defeated a large snake get the same grade as someone who wrote a good thesis and defeated a small snake?
A: Yes.

Q: So then couldn’t you just fight a snake in lieu of actually writing a thesis?
A: Technically, yes. But in that case the snake would be very big. Very big, indeed.

Q: Could the snake kill me?
A: That almost never happens. But if you’re worried, just make sure that you write a good thesis.

Q: Why do I have to do this?
A: Snake fighting is one of the great traditions of higher education. It may seem somewhat antiquated and silly, like the robes we wear at graduation, but fighting a snake is an important part of the history and culture of every reputable university. Almost everyone with an advanced degree has gone through this process. Notable figures such as John Foster Dulles, Philip Roth, and Doris Kearns Goodwin (to name but a few) have all had to defeat at least one snake in single combat.

Q: This whole snake thing is just a metaphor, right?
A: I assure you, the snakes are very real.

"The Snake Fight Portion of Your Thesis Defense" by Luke Burns (via inevitablerecursion)


Author Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) recounts a bloody memory of MythBuster’s Adam Savage, and Adam puts Gollum on the phone for a performance of “I Will Survive” at Minnesota Public Radio’s Wits.

If you haven’t seen this, you should see this. It will cheer you up, if you need cheering up.

Plover chick I banded today! I don’t know which nest it came from so I don’t know its exact age, but I’d estimate it’s 2-4 days old.

Plover chick I banded today! I don’t know which nest it came from so I don’t know its exact age, but I’d estimate it’s 2-4 days old.




pro-outdoor cat posts on my dash


Can someone explain the main problems with this? I used to let my cat out when he wanted bc he seemed depressed when he didn’t get to go, but I keep him inside now since we live near a busy road now. So yeah, help?

I am not sure there is enough time in a day to address the problems. but let me give it a try.

* The average lifespan of an indoor cats can be 15+ years, the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is between 7 and 9.
* You have no idea what your cat is doing while it is outside. They are not staying ‘just in the yard!’ just because you see them occasionally. (I know this doesn’t apply to you it’s something I commonly deal with!). Cats have been known to travel up to three miles from home, frequently.
* People are feeding your cat. I know that doesn’t sound BAD, per se. But you should have full knowledge of your cats diet so that if something happens you can tell the vet they had this or that. As it is they could be being fed anything that they are allergic to or cannot stomach. Not to mention just the odd things people will put out for them. (leftovers from dinner, for one)
* Your cat is being exposed to pesticides/chemicals/poison. People spray their gardens, as well as put out rodent killer for rats. Your cat easily gets into these, as well as eats already poisoned rats who are dying and cannot flee properly. (my mother had an outdoor cat who was accidentally caught in the mist of our neighbors pesticides and died days later.)
* Your cat is being exposed to a host of parasites. Even aside from fleas and ticks, every wild animal your cat eats is packed full of internal parasites. Hookworms, tapeworms, you name it they have it. And you cat is ingesting that.
* Your cat is being exposed to any number of diseases. FiV, Leukemia, rabies, etc. You can vaccinate against rabies, but not everything. (and often they are not even rabies vaccinated. Again not in your case, but general.)
* Your cat is perpetually under predatory threat. If you live in a rural area your cat is under threat of coyotes, foxes, etc. Any native predator, even hawks dependent on your cats size. My grandmother had an outdoor cat taken by a hawk.
And don’t think it’s safe in a city, oh no. Your cat is roaming your neighbors yards. If any of your neighbors has a cat aggressive dog you cannot fault your neighbor for your cats injury/death. Because your animal is going into their yard.
* Traffic. This basically sums itself up. Seen a lot of roadkill cats like I have growing up? How many of those must have been pets.
* Other cats are a huge danger to your cat, and your cat is a danger to them. You think you’re the only person in the neighborhood with an outdoor cat? Nope. If your cat is coming home with bites and scratches that isn’t funny or impressive, it means your cat is being injured due to another animals aggression. And that is irresponsible.
* When your cat is outside, especially without collar, it’s easy to get picked up. Either by animal control, or someone who thinks they are legitimately a stray cat. And you will never know what happened.
* There are evil people out there. People regularly poison, trap, and kill stray cats. People purposely swerve to hit them with their cars. They shoot them with pellet guns, hunting bows, ad real guns. They do this for the fun of it. And your cat could be their victim.
* Have you seen all these stories of cats stuck places? Cats stuck in attics, walls, pipes, drains, trees, etc. How many cats get trapped somewhere and there is no good person that hears them cry? How many do you think die suffering deaths alone?

And if those aren’t good enough we’ll discuss what your cat does to the environment.

* You’re letting your cat roam onto other peoples properties. Where it scratches, pees, harasses outdoor animals, harasses other cats, etc. Talk about the number one neighborhood nuisance. In many states it is legal for these people to trap your cat and take them to the pound.
* Your cat can kill other peoples pets. An open window, a bird on a porch, even in a cage. Rabbits in a hutch. Your cat can and will take the opportunity. It’s in their nature. They’re not evil, it’s just what they do.
* Speaking of nature. Cats kill 500 million native animals a year, in North America alone. They are contributing to the decimation of already critically endangered wildlife. And you would be letting them.
Cats are one of the animals known to kill even when well fed. They are not hungry at all, and use it as a way to end boredom.
* People can be deathly allergic to cats. So bad they break out in hives just by touching something your cat touched. So when your cat goes into someones back yard and rolls on their furniture or around their porch, you’re actually threatening someones well being and comfort in their own home, on their own property.

Your cat is NOT a wild animal. If you don’t find it acceptable to see freely roaming dogs, then it shouldn’t be acceptable tp have a free roaming cat. It’s a danger to your cat, and things around it.

if your cat is bored inside then you need to take constructive steps to make it happy. Shoving them outside is easy.
Improving their environment is harder.

Make easy access to windows, make a ‘catio’ if you can, give them access to a porch if you have it, make a ‘cat box’ off of a window. There are any number of ways that require just a small amount of effort. And if you cannot put in that effort, then don’t have a cat.

If these are not enough reasons to keep your cat inside, I’m not sure what would be, haha.
I am very happy to hear your cat is comfortably indoors now!

I don’t know what makes me happier, that slugs will run on hamster wheels or that someone spent two years studying wild animals running on hamster wheels.

And now I’m curious: is it something about the hamster wheel that appeals to the animals, or is it the exercise? How would they react to a treadmill?




this is the best thing i have ever seen




Well, here is this comic that I did! The first four pages were my final illustration project of junior year, and the rest were completed in the month since I have been out. This is the longest comic I have ever done so far, so that is pretty cool?

I am not satisfied with those colors and eventually I will come up with some kind of cohesive finish for the whole thing. But here it is like this, for now. I hope you like it!

Also, if you have any questions about the characters or story, I will be embarrassingly eager to answer, since I have a lot more info about them in my brain than fifteen action-packed pages permit.

Because so much of fantasy takes place in settings that in no way resemble the real world, featuring species that in no way resemble human, fantasy writers often have trouble dealing with regular people. This is something that, I think, isn’t as much of a problem for mainstream writers, because they can simply describe the world around them and come up with a reasonably accurate representation of humanity. They can also fall back on the plethora of real-world terms used to describe human beings, racially and otherwise. But using these terms makes no sense if you’re dealing with a world that doesn’t share our political/cultural context. You can’t call someone “African American” if your world has no Africa, no America, and has never gone through a colonial phase in which people of disparate cultures were forcibly brought together, thus necessitating the term in the first place.

That said, it’s equally illogical to populate your fantasy world with only one flavor of human being, which is what far too many fantasy stories default to. Granted, many fantasies take place in confined cultural spaces — a single small kingdom in a Europeanish milieu, maybe a single city or castle within that city. (But how did that castle get its spices for the royal table, or that lady her silks? What enemy are the knights training to fight? Even in the most monochromatic parts of the real Ye Olde Englande, I can guarantee you there were some Asian traders, Sephardic or Ashkenazic Jewish merchants, Spanish diplomats or nobles partly descended from black Moors, and so on.) I get that lots of countries on Earth are racially homogeneous, so it makes perfect sense that some fantasy settings would be too. But whiteness is the default in our thinking for Earth-specific cultural/political reasons. So while it’s logical for fantasy realms to be homogeneous, it’s not logical for so many of them to be homogeneously white. Something besides logic is causing that.

So. It’s a good idea for all fantasy writers to learn how to describe characters of color. And I think it’s a good idea to learn how to describe those characters in subtle ways, since they can’t always rely on Earth terminology. Now, doing subtle description increases the chance that the reader might misidentify the character racially — and to a degree, I think there’s nothing you can do about that. You’re working against a lifetime of baggage in the reader’s mind. But you can still insert enough cues so that when combined, they’ll get the idea across.

N.K. Jemisin, blogging on Describing Characters of Color for Magic District.  (via audreymgonzalez)