Weekend reads: Writing 50,000 words in 30 days, Obama's jury duty, booger-flavored jelly beans

Kristin Tyndall's reads

Why do we like being scared? In honor of Halloween, The Conversation published several fascinating articles about the science of fear, trick-or-treating, monsters, and more. One of my favorites is this piece about the psychology of fun fear. The author proposes that we like scary things because they distract us from our daily troubles, bond us to friends, and improve our confidence to overcome intimidating obstacles in real life.

Any fellow NaNoWriMo-ers out there? Every November, thousands of people worldwide set out to write a 50,000-word novel in just one month. It may seem impossible, but in 2014, more than 40,000 people achieved it. In fact, some bestselling novels of the past few years were originally drafted during NaNoWriMo, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This year, I finally took the plunge and joined the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time. If you're participating too, you may enjoy these tips for success from a previous NaNoWriMo winner and published author.      

Seren Snow's reads

Instructors at one high school are implementing restorative justice in a manner that some consider crossing the line. An all-boys high school in Washington, D.C., has changed the way it responds to students who express their anger through curse words. For example, instead of suspending students who curse, one history teacher simply has the student turn to someone and give them a compliment. Teachers also try to understand what's going on in that student's life that is stressing him out so much.

President Obama is headed to jury duty in November. Mr. Obama owns a home in Chicago and is also a private citizen now. He plans to attend so that he can fulfill his civic duty. Timothy C. Evans, chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court where Obama is expected to appear, says the court will make all of the appropriate security accommodations so that the former president can be there. The last time Obama was summoned for jury duty was in 2009, but couldn't attend because he was planning his State of the Union address.

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

As you sift through your Halloween loot, you may stumble across some unappetizing candy choices like Atomic Warheads or booger-flavored jelly beans. What makes sour, painful, and disgusting sweets compelling? You may be able to blame “benign masochism,” says Paul Rozin, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. Extreme candy lovers may be experiencing an enjoyable fear that only occurs when we know there’s no real threat, he explains.

Crows have a softer side than The Birds lets on. For one, these scavengers are scary smart. They may be one of the only animals (besides humans), who have invented a hook-tool, says Alex Taylor, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Auckland. And crows are more family-oriented than you may think, says Kevin McGowan, an ornithologist at Cornell Lab. For example, after an 8-year-old in Seattle started feeding her neighborhood crows leftovers, the birds would return the favor ten-fold by gifting her buttons and paper clips.


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