Have You Ever Seen an Oarfish?
Humankind has resided on Earth for thousands of years. Though before the 18th century, scientific
progress had a rather slow pace, starting from the 20th century, however, humanity quickly and
dramatically increased the amounts and quality of knowledge about the planet we live on.
Discoveries made about Earth show that it is still full of wonders, despite constant and persistent
research conducted by scientists. One of the biggest mysteries today are oceans. According to some
data, 95% of oceanic depths are still unexplored (LiveScience). This means that are an unimaginable
number of wonders awaiting to be discovered.
A perfect illustration of this thesis is represented by weird creatures that are regularly being found
or filmed in the oceans across the entire planet. For an example, one needs to look no further than
giant squids, fish-devils, enormous mantas, and other unique species that most likely had served
ancient sailors as sources of inspiration for their legends about deep sea monsters. One of such
creatures is the oarfish, which could be a prototype for famous sea serpents; one of the largest of its
representatives was found in October, 2013 on the Southern California coast, USA (CNN).
An oarfish is a gigantic and extremely elongated sea creature; its length can reach about 17 meters
long. Presumably, they have earned their name due to their length and a slightly compressed body
shape. However, its Latin (and scientific) name, which sounds like Regalicidae, is translated as
“royal” which makes this species a “king” of other fish. Anyways, it does not mean that all the
exemplars of the oarfish are that long; in most cases, their length varies between 2-4 meters (New
World Encyclopedia). Oarfish usually inhabit the tropics, though they also can be seen in other
regions of the world ocean.
Except its length, oarfish have other curious characteristics. For example, despite of its size, oarfish
possesses a surprisingly small mouth with no visible teeth in it. The oarfish does not have any scales
as well. Its color is mostly bluish, which is caused by small crystals of guanine deposited in the upper
layers of its skin. Their flanks and undersides may be different in color, but in the majority of cases
they are also blue and black (New World Encyclopedia).
Though in the older times oarfish could most likely inspire sailors to have stories about gigantic sea
serpents, dangerous and carnivorous, oarfish are known to feed entirely on plankton. It eats small
fish, crustaceans, krill, and other smaller prey, which they strain from the water with their grill
rakers. However, there were documented cases when oarfish ate cnedarian medusa and little
squids. It is interesting to know that when oarfish feed, they usually turn their bodies into a vertical
An oarfish is a unique and fascinating creature. Despite its size and feeding requirements it does not
possess a danger to humans; besides it inhabits deep waters of tropic areas, though sometimes it
can be seen elsewhere. Its longest exemplar was known to reach 17 meters long; in October, 2013
one that spanned six meters was found in Southern California. Oarfish are a perfect example of the
thesis that we still know little about our planet, and especially about oceans.
Wang, Kevin. “18-foot Oarfish Discovered off Southern California Coast.” CNN. Cable News Network,
16 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.
“Mysteries of the Oceans Remain Vast and Deep.” LiveScience.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.
“Oarfish.” New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.
The Genius of Stephen Hawking
Astronomy (and astrophysics) has been continually connected directly to the world’s mysteries that
have intrigued humanity throughout history. Before the advent of modern physics, people were
offered dogmatic religious explanations of the Universe’s structure; however, such scientists as
Galileo or Newton had completely changed the way the world had usually been perceived. Since
their discoveries were made, the picture of the world we live in became more complicated, so that
today it can be almost entirely understood perhaps only by scientists. Fortunately, there are people
who make knowledge about the Universe accessible for everybody who want to learn more about it.
Such people are geniuses, as they often manage to explain phenomenally difficult concepts in
accessible language; one such person is Stephen Hawking—a great scientist and a great personality.
Stephen Hawking, a mastermind in physics, astrophysics, and other complicated branches of science
that I have no idea about, was born in 1942. Surprisingly, at school the future genius had not been a
brilliant student—his academic successes back then were rather mediocre (HowStuffWorks).
However, when it came to entering a university, young Hawking had displayed a perfect score in
physics, which had won him an Oxford scholarship. University professors had also recognized him as
an insufficiently diligent student; however, he received a first-class honors degree in Oxford, and
started his graduate work in Cambridge (Special Education Degrees).
As a student, despite of being a member of a rowing team in Oxford, Hawking experienced
increasing clumsiness and problems with controlling his body. Those were the first symptoms of a
disease that later would change his life—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—which has made him almost
completely paralyzed. Despite all the difficulties that the disease had caused him, Hawking did not
give up; moreover, throughout his life he did more than a regular healthy person would do.
What is the most fascinating aspect about Stephen Hawking is his will power. Honestly, how many
people would have not given up if they were diagnosed with ALS? However, Hawking not only
continued his scientific work (despite being given just a few years to live when he was 21), but
accomplished a number of great tasks, and made an invaluable contribution to science. Stephen
Hawking wrote a number of world-famous books, which is already remarkable for a person who can
only communicate with others with the help of a voice modulator. Besides, these books are
dedicated to the most complicated problems that science (cosmology, in particular) has ever faced;
however, Hawking managed to explain them (or at least bring the readers up to date) in simple
words, with his own style and sophisticated humor.
Stephen Hawking, regardless of his circumstances, manages to live a more fulfilled life than people
usually do. He is the director of research at the Cambridge Center for Theoretical Cosmology. He is
the author of numerous bright theories. He has floated in zero gravity and hopes to fly to space
(Biography.com). He is a married man and a father. But most of all, he is a scientist recognized
worldwide. He has refuted the image of a scientist as a bookworm delved into calculations and
formulas; on the contrary, his personality, humor, books, and participation in different popular
projects, such as “The Simpsons” (where he acted as himself) or “Into the Universe With Stephen
Hawking,” have shown the world that science can be popular.
McGrath, Jane. “10 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Stephen Hawking.” HowStuffWorks.
HowStuffWorks.com, 30 June 2010. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.
“Stephen Hawking Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.
“Special Education Degrees.” Special Education Degrees. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.
Sources : http://academichelp.net/samples/essays/expository/hawking.html
Why the Glamorous Lifestyle Is Dangerous?
One of the dominant segments of media today is entertainment, not only in terms of content, but
also as the main principle of establishment, functioning, and providing information. In its turn, in this
sphere of entertainment, glossy magazines for both men and women occupy a significant place; they
are dedicated to a great diversity of topics, but most of all they are focused on the glamorous
lifestyle they expect their readership to adhere to. Though these magazines are supposedly for
entertainment, they still have a significant impact on the minds of people who read them, be it
adults or just teenagers with forming personalities. And, unfortunately, claims about the negative
influence of this kind of information are heard more often, and are more reasonable than those
offered by the advocates of the glamorous lifestyle.
To start with, glamorous magazines propagate rather debated values. In particular, the most obvious
danger is the body image promoted by celebrities. Eating disorders, such as anorexia, are known all
over the world; psychologists connect it to the desire of young people to have “ideal” figures
possessed by people whom they usually see in glossy magazines, and whom they believe to be
fashionable or prestigious. About 69% of young people aged 9-18 perceive models’ figures they see
in magazines as ideal bodies (Commonplace). Rather often people see hunger as the shortest way to
become slim, and through this they develop a neurosis known as anorexia. Its results are dramatic
and familiar to many people around the world: teenagers and adults die of exhaustion, or have to
undergo serious and difficult rehab procedures. Is it worth looking “glamorous?” Not at all.
The glamorous lifestyle propagated by such personalities as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and other
celebrities one can see in tabloids is impossible to achieve without narcissism. In fact, today we are
witnessing the rise of a narcissistic culture. Self-expression had been substituted by the enormous
craving for recognition and for admiring attention. To gain this, a person whose personality has been
affected by the glossy propaganda acts dysfunctionally, but in full accordance with their
understanding of what is glamorous or stylish. Though glamour is often associated with a prosperous
life, in fact people who crave it are more prone to alcohol and drug addictions, public emotional
meltdowns, broken relationships, and other scandalous repercussions (The Good News). Hence,
glossy magazines and glamorous propaganda change the way people think and behave in a negative
Yet another problem connected to the glamorous lifestyle is a lack of money. Entertaining magazines
advertise a vast amount of expensive and prestigious items, such as jewelry, electronic gadgets,
vehicles, clothes, and other luxurious products. Since glamour and consumption usually go hand in
hand, a person who desires to lead a glamorous lifestyle usually feels obliged to purchase these
items, even being financially incapable to do so (PhilCom). Banking loans spent totally on luxury
items are no longer fiction. Vast amounts of money are spent by such people on products that will
be out of fashion in no time; and whereas celebrities can afford changing prestigious accessories
whenever they wish, for common people changes in fashion usually mean new loans.
The glamorous lifestyle is commonly associated with a life full of pleasure and enjoyment; however,
it has another side, which is not as attractive and shiny. Inappropriate body image concepts lead to a
development of anorexia among teenagers and adults who want to look like models they see in
magazines. Narcissism, cultivated by glamorous propaganda, usually leads to dysfunctional behavior
and various kinds of addictions. Besides, being “glamorous” is rather expensive. Hence, adhering to a
glamorous lifestyle is not something to strive for.
Petty, Gary. “Celebrity Culture: The Distorted Mirror.” Good News Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb.
Reed, Victoria. “Glossy Pages of Deception: Magazines and Body Image.” Commonplace. N.p., n.d.
Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
Willing, Sam. “Glamour: What Are the Costs?” PhilCon. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
If I Could Change One Thing About Myself
Perhaps, one of the most unpleasant feelings one can experience in life is being discontent with
oneself. Whereas we are prone to notice negative features in other people, we rarely turn our eyes
on ourselves to critically evaluate our behavior or personal qualities. But, if we do, we can notice
many traits within ourselves that we would not like to be there. I try to stay tolerant towards the
majority of my personality features. Though, simultaneously with my positive qualities, I can be a
lazy, irresponsible, apathetic downer. I learned to live with these and other drawbacks; but, the
quality that I would enjoy getting rid of is my tendency to doubt my decisions.
It is human nature to doubt ourselves from time to time. Imagine the situation when the five best
universities in the United States are willing to have you as their student. This is one chance in a
million, and you know this decision could define your entire life. Most likely, you will not randomly
point your finger at one of them and say: “I will study here” (well, not immediately, at least). Instead
you will conduct serious research, figuring out the advantages and drawbacks of being a student of
each particular university; you will sketch out your future career perspectives as a graduate of each
of these universities, and check a number of other parameters. And after intense doubts and
worries, you would finally choose your favored institution.
This is the most reasonable approach. But in my case, I am sometimes prone to doubt even after I
made a decision. Most likely, I would choose a university carefully, make a final decision, and then
doubt about the decision for a while, even though I would be already studying there. In real life, such
a peculiarity manifests in more everyday situations. To stay at home or to hang out with friends?
Whatever I choose, I will spend some time thinking about the opposite variant. To buy chocolate
milk or beer? To go to the cinema or to the theater? To spend vacations in the mountains or at the
sea? Not always, but more often that I would like, I start to reflect about trivial decisions.
Would I like to completely quit doubting about anything? I think not. Doubts are a natural
mechanism which helps us make the best possible decision in every particular case; without this
ability we would most likely make random, uninformed decisions regardless of their possible
consequences. But, at the same time, when the decision is made, you must start working to
actualize it without hesitation, and this is the moment when doubts become troublesome. The more
you think over a certain action of yours, the more likely you will delay the actual realization of what
is on your mind.
Wise people teach us to be tolerant towards themselves, and accept both their negative and positive
traits. I agree with this thesis, but with one small specification: this acceptance must not be an
excuse for not working towards personal development and growth. This is my approach towards my
proneness to doubtfulness: I can live with it, I know it is mine, but I am persistently working on
getting rid of this quality.
TYPE: LITERARY TEXT (REVIEW)
"Brutal" by Michael Harmon - Book Review
Strong Heroine Confronts Bullying in Young Adult Novel That Adults Should Read
By Linda Lowen
In most discussions about bullying, why do we seem more comfortable talking about the victim's
actions, feelings and behaviors and less willing to go after the perpetrators and hold them
accountable? If we want to stop bullying, shouldn't we stop the bully?
Fighting for Fairness
That question is the engine that propels Brutal, and author Michael Harmon doesn't strike a false note
in creating a convincing 16-year-old heroine hell-bent on fighting all that's unfair. Best of all, Harmon's
strong-willed, intelligent protagonist is no sweet-faced goody goody; she's an angry and flawed
teenager who feels the sting of parental rejection and learns throughout the course of the novel to
open up and trust again.
But trust is the last thing on her mind when Poe Holly arrives as the new girl in town after her mother,
an emotionally distant surgeon, heads to a jungle village to dispense medical care to "world citizens"
and dumps Poe on the doorstep of someone she doesn't know and hasn't seen in 15 years -- her
The Brutality of Bullying
Her new home, a wine-country tourist hot spot called Benders Hollow, is a far cry from Los Angeles
where Poe sang in a rock band and was thrown out of private schools because of her fiercely
independent streak. Poe's punk clothes and in-your-face attitude are at odds with nearly all of her
classmates at Bender High School except for another nihilistic rocker, Theo, who just happens to be
the mayor's son, and a strange, gawky kid named Velveeta who evokes unexpected empathy in Poe.
It's Velveeta's brutal treatment at the hands of can't-touch-me football star Colby Morris that makes
Poe stand up to the establishment, which includes not only her peers but the school administrators as
well. Complicating matters is the fact that the high school guidance counselor just happens to be her
father, a man she's tentatively trying to forge a relationship with.
Giving 'Losers' a Voice
Poe doesn't have all the answers, and several times she's proven wrong in her assessment of others
who deserve more credit than she's willing to give them. But the presence of a strong, vocal, not
easily intimidated female who has the courage to question the inconsistencies of authority -- and point
out the inequities between the haves and the have-nots -- makes this novel one that you should put
into the hands of any teen or tween girls that you know.
One scene that stands out involves a roomful of high school 'losers' who confront school
administrators with how they feel about being the victims of bullying and how, when they say they
wish they could kill, they mean it. It's a chilling moment that should be read by every individual who
comes in contact with kids in the educational system -- parents, teachers, administrators, counselors.
It speaks to the desperation of those students whose are so badly bullied that they see school as a
living hell, and who can't fathom a way out of the violence except by initiating lethal violence.
Mother and Daughter Approved
Michael Harmon writes with a deep understanding of what it means to be an outsider. Fortunately for
us, he also writes with an understanding of what it means to be a teenage girl. Although this is a
young adult novel, I'd highly recommend it any adult who has a middle or high school student in
Poe Holly is one of the most affecting female teenage characters I've read in a while, and I'm not
alone; my 15-year-old daughter picked up Brutal and read it straight through. And if a novel can keep
a teenager sitting still for five hours in the first week of summer vacation...well, if that isn't an
endorsement, I don't know what is.
by Michael Harmon
Hardcover, 256pp. ISBN 978-0-375-84009-9
Sources : http://womensissues.about.com/od/peerpressure/fr/BrutalBookReview.htm