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Rattlesnakes are only too plentiful everywhere; along the river bottoms, in the broken, hilly ground, and on the prairies and the great desert wastes alike...If it can it will get out of the way, and only coils up in its attitude of defence when it believes that it is actually menaced.
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He couldn't think of a good place. At first he thought she hated all living beings equally. Lately he had come to believe he held a special place in her heart, just below rattlesnakes, pederasts, and spirochetes. Definitely a tough place to start from, but determination had always been Conal's strong point.
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When I write "paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies, rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms, volcanoes and earthquakes, bacteria and bear, cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite, flash floods and quicksand, and yes - disease and death and the rotting of flesh.
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Other countries may boast of this and that, but nobody can touch the United States for poisonous snakes. We have about twenty species, most of them deadly, and Europe has only five or six, none of them much good. We have fifteen kinds of Rattlesnakes alone and nobody else has even one. [ There is a species in Central and South America, but it probably came from the United States ].
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There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don't know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.
J. R. R. Tolkien
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Knowing he [Bob Serber] was going to the [first atom bomb] test, I asked him how he planned to deal with the danger of rattlesnakes. He said, 'I'll take along a bottle of whiskey.' ... I ended by asking, 'What would you do about those possibilities [of what unknown phenomena might cause a nuclear explosion to propagate in the atmosphere]?' Bob replied, 'Take a second bottle of whiskey.
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From that unremarkable gap in dense northern forest, I could finally see clearly that if I hadn't walked away from school, through devastating beauty alone on the Pacific Crest Trail, met rattlesnakes and bears, fording frigid and remote rivers as deep as I am tall-feeling terror and the gratitude that followed the realization that I'd survived rape-I'd have remained lost, maybe for my whole life. The trail had shown me how to change. This is the story of how my recklessness became my salvation. I wrote it.
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I wondered why it had to be so poisonous. Oleanders could live through anything, they could stand heat, drought, neglect, and put out thousands of waxy blooms. So what did they need poison for? Couldn't they just be bitter? They weren't like rattlesnakes, they didn't even eat what they killed. The way she boiled it down, distilled it, like her hatred. Maybe it was a poison in the soil, something about L.A., the hatred, the callousness, something we didn't want to think about, that the plant concentrated in its tissues. Maybe it wasn't a source of poison, but just another victim.
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