Rene Magritte.

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist. ”
—- Rene Magritte

This summer I had a chance to see Magritte’s real work at MOMA museum in NYC. Magritte has been one of my favorite artists for a long time for his particular impressionistic style.

Rene Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, in 1898. His earliest oil paintings form 1915 were Impressionistic in style. The oil paintings he produced during the years 1918-1924 were influenced by Futurism and by the offshoot of Cubism practiced by Metzinger. Most of his works of this period are female nudes.


In 1922-1923, he worked as a draughtsman in a wallpaper factory, and was a poster and advertisement designer until 1926. In 1926, Magritte produced his first surreal oil painting, “The Lost Jockey,” and held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927, in which he got lots of critics on the exhibition.

Later during the German occupation of Belgium in World War II, Magritte remained in Brussels. He briefly adopted a colorful, painterly style in 1943-44, and was known as his “Renoir Period.”

His work was exhibited in the United States in New York in 1936 in Museum of Modern Art and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Magritte’s paintings mostly embody the combination of realism and impressionism, and he is able to present his particular idea of humanity and dream. One of his representative piece is “The Lovers I (1928),” which identifies the mystery of two lovers who are shrouded in white cloth.

Magritte inspires me a lot, not only in art area, but also life.

“Life obliges me to do something, so I paint. ”
– Rene Magritte

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I Spy the United States

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The NSA scandal and the shadow it has created is something the Obama Administration cannot escape. In the past days newly leaked Edward Snowden documents have shown the true extent of NSA spying.

It is now known that the NSA has actively been spying on the United Nations. President Obama even had memos directing the NSA to tone down spying on the UN. The NSA has even narrowed down their spying to specific European leaders such as Angela Merkel. According to German media it is believed the NSA has spied on Merkel since 2010.All these clams the United States denies.
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If enemies do not fear you, and allies do not trust you, how do you keep your hold over the world?

Beavers.

The first time “beavers” came across my mind was during last year’s US History class. The European traders used to trade beaver furs. However, this time when I heard the word “beaver” again, it was more about how they destroy the environment.

The beaver is among the largest rodents including two species, North American beaver and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges with their powerful teeth and jaws. They build dams to provide still, deep, water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material.

Beavers have been a major threat to the environment. They create massive log, branch, and mud structures to block streams and turn fields and forests into the large ponds as their homes. But at the same time, millions of trees are destroyed. Beavers also eat crops and aquatic plants. Beaver activity jeopardizes millions of dollars in transportation infrastructure and can also cause significant damage to timber resources. For example, Alabama alone estimates $19 million in lost timber annually due to beaver.

The beaver becomes a challenge when they interfere with man’s use of the land. However, beavers are not damaging the environment as most people think they are. Beavers’ ponds act as a reservoir to impound and store water, therefore reducing flooding events further down stream. The stored water is released slowly and provides for a moderate flow in dry periods that will keep the fish in the creek alive.

Before we think about the destructions beavers can cause, we should recognize that beaver ponds also play important roles in the ecosystem by creating habitat for many animals, birds and insects.

By the way, they are cute too!

“Death” Valley.

Recently, I did a research project on National Parks for AP Environmental Science class. I chose the  Death Valley, which I had always considered it as “dead land” until this time I finally learned that it is actually full of lively species.

Located at 282 feet below the sea level, Death Valley is 300 miles northwest of LA, in the eastern flank of the towering Sierra Nevada Range (which also stands as the 8th lowest depression on earth and deepest in North America). Formed about 1.8 billion years ago, the Death Valley was previously an ancient sea and later developed into rock, which formed warped mountains and uplifted plates.

Death Valley is famous as the hottest, driest place in North America. Summer high temperatures commonly run above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind is pretty common in this arid area with desert biome, especially during winter time. Dust storms can blow up with the approaching cold-fronts, therefore the valley remains long summers throughout the year. And the coolest months are December and January. The rainfall average is only 1.92 inches.

Even though the climate is arid and dry, Death Valley still consists of great diversity of wildlife. Species of animals such as Fringed Myotis, Coyote, Sagebrush Checkerspot, Roadrunner, and Chuckwalla all habitat in Death Valley.

However, the endangered species in Death Valley have been a huge issue. Species such as Amargosa Toad (Bufi nelsoni), Southwestern Willow Flycather (Empidonax traillii extimus), Devils Hole Pupfish (Crprinodon diabolis), and Desert Tortoise.

In Death Valley National Park, groundwater feeds seeps, springs, and a rare desert river that are crucial for sustaining plant and animal life. Moreover, lots of species rely on the groundwater.

Most of the land between the roads in Death Valley National Park has been given an additional layer of protection from further development by being designated Wilderness. Today there are more than 109 million acres of federally protected Wilderness in 44 states. Recently the “National Park Service” released its new stewardship plan for Death Valley National Park, which focused on managing Death Valley’s wilderness, which comprises 3.1 million acres of the 3.3 million-acre park.

We all live and share the same environment with animals, plants and other species. Therefore, humans are also responsible for our own behaviors. I’ve never been to Death Valley before, but I don’t want to see it turn into a forever “dead valley.”

Never Fixed

In Journalism class, we watched Shattered Glass. Or most of it, anyways. I was having a terrible, awful, no good, very bad day, so it heightened the suckage of the movie for me.

Well, it wasn’t a bad movie really. It followed the, slightly antagonistic, days of Stephen Glass, and appeared to be a lovely movie at first. Stephen Glass seemed to be charming, witty, awkward, and an easy to talk to person. He was a journalist and was loved by his co-workers and boss, Michael Kelly. After a strange “punishment” of circling commas beheld the crew, Michael tried to defend them and ended up getting fired.

Their new boss, Chuck Lane wasn’t too hot for Stephen. Or at least lacked the bond that the last boss shared with the workers.

One of Stephen’s stories was about a teenage hacker, how Ian Restil hacked into the company Jukt Micronics’s computer system and how he became a hero among other hackers.

Guess what? The whole story was total bullcrap. Whoaaaa plot twist of the century.

Ugh.

Anyways a reporter at another company, Adam Penenberg at Forbes Digital Tool, got suspicious and researched the company. Him and his co-workers discovered an amateurish website for Jukt Micronics and nearly no evidence that any of the story actually happened whatsoever.

Aaand Stephen Glass is suspended. For two years.

That’s about where we left off in the movie. In reading of the movie’s Wikipedia page, I discovered that Stephen had admitted that 27 of his articles were fictional in at least one part.

I can understand the pressures of writing, I can. Our school’s journalism program is pretty intense, and, even as a rookie, I’ve found myself one or a few times thinking “maybe I’ll just pretend this happened…”

I didn’t though. I did my best to stick to the truth, however boring or difficult the truth may be. If Stephen had made up one of his stories, maybe two, I would’ve been a little more forgiving towards his character. But no, he had to make up 27 different stories and that is just ridiculous and weak.