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Who lost America?

The article was published in The Tiltonian.

In the early 1950s, there was a dispute in the United States about “who lost China” to a Communist regime. Almost 70 years later, the question is who lost America? When Governor Winthrop gave his speech to his fellow Puritans on the Mayflower, he said: ”We shall be a city upon a hill.” Early settlers were determined to make their new colony a holy experiment, a utopian society that stood as “a city upon a hill” for the rest of the world to see.

In his farewell address, the great modern Republican hero Ronald Reagan showed us the American pride in the city upon a hill: “…in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.” It is fair to say that at that time America welcomed all-comers of any faith and color, and this is what America stood for to the world.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump spoke not of Reagan’s America being the “shining city,” but of “American Carnage” in his inaugural address. This wasn’t just a change of mood. For a long time, there has been a pervasive sense that America itself is becoming less powerful given the growing aggressiveness of Russia and the rise of China, and the domestic social and economic issues certainly did not help the underlying insecurity. A fox news poll published in September found that more than half the voters were unhappy with how things are going in the country. Trump’s words likely struck a chord with the angry and scared when he took a nationalist stance to embrace protectionism in every aspect. When Trump had the chance to speak to the world at the United Nations General Assembly, he told dozens of world leaders, but it was mostly for domestic audiences, that “America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.” This is neither traditional conservatism nor Reaganism. It is straightforward right-wing populism.

What is more alarming about Trump’s rhetoric is that it breaks America into two: the nationalists and the globalists. As Mr. Trump defines it: “A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” The upcoming midterm elections are really a battle over which side owns the American creed. The ingenious talent of Trump is that he can force the Republicans onto his whooping train of nationalism while driving the Democrats into a globalist corner. For example, any slight attempt from Democrats to join the Republicans to enforce the borders risks being labeled as anti-immigrant. Trump has succeeded in turning American ideals like immigration into a heated partisan topic. Republicans believe jobs are for people from somewhere, while Democrats support the rights for any people from anywhere.

While the two sides are battling about what it is to be American, the world’s dislike of Trump is translating into feelings about the US as a whole. Traditionally, views about the President and the nation as a whole have been far more separate. The lead singer of the Irish rock band U2 Bono said: “America is an idea, but it’s an idea that brings with it some baggage, like power brings responsibility. It’s an idea that brings with it equality, but equality even though it’s the highest calling, is the hardest to reach.” For most of America’s history, the nation has held the moral conscience that reflected the values of the American people. If we take a closer look at the historical process of establishing the international order led by the United States after World War II, we must admit that this period realized the most significant improvement in the living conditions of humanity. We have to acknowledge that the United States has led the creation of an international order based on rights and responsibilities. And the US has advanced this order to promote peace, security, and opportunity. Yet Trump is ceding America’s moral high ground by being soft on authoritarian regimes while exercising unilateral, selfish, and dangerous foreign policies. As a result, the perceptions of America on the world stage are declining precipitously under Trump and jeopardizing the soft power originated from the leadership role the US has taken.

The answer to who lost America has become increasingly apparent: US democracy is losing itself to a different path. President Woodrow Wilson wrote: “America has put itself under bonds to the earth to discover and maintain liberty now among men, and if she cannot see liberty now with the clear, unerring vision she had at the outset, she has lost her title, she has lost every claim to the leadership and respect of the nations of the world.”Now it’s more important than ever to remember the founding fathers’ vision, and rally behind this cause to arrest any further institutional decay of the American ideal – being a city upon a hill.

Sky is Where His Heart Resides

On a calm and serene morning in New Hampshire’s forests, a young man named Nate McCarvill is flying his drone. He looks at a screen that shows him a video feed from a camera carried by the drone, and he holds a radio with twin joysticks that control the speed, direction, yaw, pitch, and the attitude of the aircraft. He sets the drone on the gravel driveway that wound through his wide-spreading lawns and under the interlacing boughs of tall maples. He pushes the joysticks inward. The four green propellers began to rotate, and soon the morning tranquility is pierced by the whine of the motors. He lifts the sticks and the drone leaps above the tree’s tall spire in an instant and soaring over the forests. At eighty miles an hour, the drone flashes across the driveway and left the leaves of mountain maples in a breeze.

The battery onboard can power the drone for about eight minutes. Nate navigates the drone back to the driveway before time is up. The drone lands smoothly on the gravel. Nate calls it a quadcopter. It has four plastic propellers, each located at the corners of an X shaped carbon fiber frame. Nate built the drone from scratch using parts he bought online. It took him about a month for it to take off and hover around his house. The drone looks like a prototype for science experiments, with bare cables and flashing lights with antennas. In fact, the entire drive is the result of advancement in science and technology. Years of progress in material science and electronics converge on this small, science fiction looking aircraft.

Only seventeen years old, Nate has the sweet manner of a modest, not spoiled kid. He is six feet tall, blond hair, wearing a faintly green hoodie, black sweatpants, and white running shoes. He was born into a family where his father became a computer engineer. As a child, he was always working on different DIY projects with his father. He would rip out the parts in discarded machines and build them into working computers. “I enjoyed creating stuff,” he recalls. In 2016, when he was a sophomore in high school, he got a summer job at a local restaurant. He used his first paycheck to buy parts for a quadcopter.

It took Nate about a month to get his first drone to work. Building drones is nothing like building computers, it demands a high level of engineering skill. “It was definitely harder than building computers, but I put it together and just started flying.” Nate got the idea of drone racing from YouTube videos. Drones are just like cars, flying them gives you the fast-paced racing action like Formula 1 and NASCAR. Those small machines are capable of doing 80 miles per hour up and down in the air. Top drone racers upload their video to showcase their skills. Puertolas, better known by his pilot name, Charpu, steers his drone at its maximum speed through an abandoned building in his youtube video “Left Behind.” “I saw the video, I tried it, I loved it, but I crashed all the time like a noob.” There were some crashes, but Nate is very talented. He picked up the skills very fast and soon he was earning his wings.

Drone racing is nothing like other sport. Nothing compares to the thrill of watching drone diving straight down towards the ground at a heart-stopping speed. However, it also has the DIY feel of skateboarding and the techy nature of e-sports. Nate has converted the basement of his house into his drone workshop: airframes, batteries, control boards, and all kinds of tools were all over the place. “What I do is more than just flying the drones. It is also about designing drones and improve my hardware.” Indeed, drone racing is more than the bleeding off speed, it is also about the art of engineering, and that is where Nate lives.

As Nate picked up the still flashing drone on the ground, the midday New Hampshire sun finally penetrated the cloud. A faint wind sighed through the maple trees, and the kaleidoscope-like reds, golds, and oranges stirred and whispered. “Isn’t this beautiful?” He turns around and continues: “You push the sticks and watch the screen, suddenly you are connected to the world in front of you. I was racing drones just for fun, but I realized later it is so much more. It is really the fusion of art and technology, and I am proud to be part of it.”


Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

36 Methods of Mathematical Proof

If the proof of a theorem is not immediately apparent, it may be because you are trying the wrong approach. Below are some effective methods of proof that might aim you in the right direction.

Proof by obviousness: “The proof is so clear that it need not be mentioned.”

Proof by general agreement: “All in favor?…”

Proof by imagination: “Well, we’ll pretend it’s true…”

Proof by convenience: “It would be very nice if it were true, so…”

Proof by necessity: “It had better be true, or the entire structure of mathematics would crumble to the ground.”

Proof by plausibility: “It sounds good, so it must be true.”

Proof by intimidation: “Don’t be stupid; of course it’s true!”

Proof by lack of sufficient time: “Because of the time constrait, I’ll leave the proof to you.”

Proof by postponement: “The proof for this is long and arduous, so it is given to you in the appendix.”

Proof by accident: “Hey, what have we here?!”

Proof by insignificance: “Who really cares anyway?”

Proof by mumbo-jumbo:

Proof by profanity: (example omitted)

Proof by definition: “We define it to be true.”

Proof by tautology: “It’s true because it’s true.”

Proof by plagiarism: “As we see on page 289,…”

Proof by lost reference: “I know I saw it somewhere….”

Proof by calculus: “This proof requires calculus, so we’ll skip it.”

Proof by terror: When intimidation fails…

Proof by lack of interest: “Does anyone really want to see this?”

Proof by illegibility:

Proof by logic: “If it is on the problem sheet, it must be true!”

Proof by majority rule: Only to be used if general agreement is impossible.

Proof by clever variable choice: “Let A be the number such that this proof works…”

Proof by tessellation: “This proof is the same as the last.”

Proof by divine word: “…And the Lord said, ‘Let it be true,’ and it was true.”

Proof by stubbornness: “I don’t care what you say- it is true.”

Proof by simplification: “This proof reduced to the statement 1 + 1 = 2.”

Proof by hasty generalization: “Well, it works for 17, so it works for all reals.”

Proof by deception: “Now everyone turn their backs…”

Proof by supplication: “Oh please, let it be true.”

Proof by poor analogy: “Well, it’s just like…”

Proof by avoidance: Limit of proof by postponement as it approaches infinity

Proof by design: If it’s not true in today’s math, invent a new system in which it is.

Proof by authority: “Well, Don Knuth says it’s true, so it must be!”

Proof by intuition: “I have this gut feeling.”

Shakespere’s Hamlet

According to Italian writer, Italo Calvino in Why Read the Classics, “The classics are the books of which we usually hear people say: I am rereading… and never I am reading….” and Shakespeare’s works are exactly such classics. Although he died more than 400 years ago, William Shakespeare is still one of the most popular English writers in the world. Noted critic Harold Bloom argues Shakespeare is the canon, and he sets the standard and the limits of literature. Bloom goes even further by stating Shakespeare’s work reflects what it means to be human, and because of this, Shakespeare invented us as well. But why is a play like Hamlet, which was written at the end of the 16th century, still of interest to contemporary audiences who generally don’t believe in ghosts and revenge? I think the answer is simple: What Shakespeare created is an idea, or as Bloom defines it, “personality.”

So, what is the “idea” or “personality” Shakespeare created? The opposites of it would simply be “character.” Shakespeare’s plays bring us a sense of inwardness. Characters like Hamlet seem to belong to fantasy, and yet there is something in his story that people relate to. Hamlet is not a hero, and he’s not even a determined person. When he decides to take revenge, he vacillates between action and inaction. Did Shakespeare really arrange the play within the play to confirm the story told by the ghost? Or if he was thinking about the possibility if he can prove the ghost is wrong, he then doesn’t have to bear the burden of revenge, so he doesn’t have to get blood on his hands? When Hamlet gives the famous soliloquy ”To be or not to be…” isn’t he considering escaping reality by committing suicide? Even when he has the chance to kill Claudius while Claudius is praying, his over-contemplative nature stops him from killing Claudius because he thinks Claudius if “purging of his soul.”

Look what Hamlet says to himself:
“O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!”
“Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion!”

Hamlet is growling the foulest imprecations at himself. Isn’t he sick and tired of his cowardly incompetence? Doesn’t he have a strong feeling of revenge in his heart? However,  he remains passive till the end. He accepts the fencing match, using the sincerest words in apologizing to Laertes. And he still doesn’t kill Claudius till his mother drinks poisonous wine and he and Laertes both get stabbed by the poisoned sword, and Laertes reveals Claudius was behind all of this. Imagine if Claudius didn’t stage a plot to kill Hamlet, would he still struggle over the question “To be or not to be?”

Most people will not face the same dilemma as Hamlet, but there will be situations in which we will try to convince ourselves and have to force ourselves to face difficulties. “You cannot be a hero without being a coward.” I guess there is a coward inside all of us, a desire to run and hide in the background. We are fighting this cowardliness all the time. If our lives are the hero’s journeys, it’s the responsibility and ambition that make us desire to reach the next peak high up in the sky. But the coward in our hearts makes us afraid of the challenges on the way. It might challenge our physical strength, our will to push forward, but sometimes it will test our morals and ethics. Wouldn’t we also struggle and vacillate, trying to find excuses for our cowardliness, and end up regretting and hating like Hamlet? But this is who we are. Shakespeare isn’t rendering characters. He is creating an idea. He is presenting human experience through wonder and improbabilities. A Character like Hamlet seems uncannily real to us because he is our friend, he is you, and me, he is all of us.

Greek tragedy: Why we need it today?

Why Greek tragedies still matter? What is the importance of tragedy? What are we looking for in those plays? The questions stuck with me throughout the time I read the three Theban plays. I found myself many instances that show why tragedies are a part of our lives. I want to start with something a bit dry and fundamental: the origin of the Greek drama. There are many different theories out there for the origin of drama, but there is no controversy that Western drama came from Greek tragedies. Looking back to Aristotle’s seminal work Poetics, Aristotle used the word “Catharsis” to describe the effects of tragedy. Some people interpret katharsis as purification, some understand it as intellectual clarification. To answer the question, Greek tragedies matters because our soul is looking for catharsis. Some of you might be thinking I sounded like a pedant, and what does catharsis relate to your life anyway. Well, Greek tragedies are just like the dramas we see on TV. Tragedies were merely are a form of entertainment to Greeks,  and they are nothing different than a good TV show. When you felt the sharing of pity and terror and joy with all and was so fascinated that you had to watch another episode of the TV show, you already felt the catharsis Greeks felt.

But why we seek catharsis from Greek tragedies? Wouldn’t show on Netflix better than the ancient Greek plays? English playwright Edward Bond wrote: “A dramatist who writes about society must write about the future. The present is too close to be written about knowingly. The future is the hidden purpose of drama, of all art. A dramatist has only two subjects: the future and the past which is the origin of the future.” I think the future here is not the literary meaning of future, but to make futurity resonance his life experience with the social issues the play is tackling. To me, Greek tragedies are future proof. The scenes in the tragedies might seem shocking and unimaginable, but they will become more recognizable when we relate to our era. Because the topics Greek tragedies tackle are the fundamental human motivations, and the conflicts in plays are created by underlying human motivations are shared by people of different races, nationalities, and times.

In lieu of what is happening now in Washington, I was struck when I saw the moment when two women confronted Senator Flake in the elevator. The outcome of the vote for Judge Kavanaugh to join the Supreme Court seemed like a foregone conclusion when we all got the message that Flake was supporting Kavanaugh. But this two women, Archila and Gallagher, both are victims of sexual assaults, took off after Flake and stopped him in the elevator. Senator Flake, awkwardly standing in the side of the elevator, fidget, nodding, and break eye contact with the two women and the media crowd. Archila’s voice broke and filled the space with sudden emotion.

“You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children. I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?”

And then Gallagher took over.

“I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what you are telling all women in America, that they don’t matter.”

Flake’s head lowered and slightly nodded.

After seeing this news, I realized this could be an example of how Greek tragedies relates to our life and a possible answer to the initial questions. Archila and Gallagher are like the Antigone, who has befallen to calamities caused by the fate beyond her control. But they tried to overcome the situation and approach the situation in a favorable way. The author of the play Sophocles was visionary in term of introducing a major female character into the play as the protagonist. This arrangement makes the play Antigone tackles the gender equality and women’s right. The antagonist in the play, Creon, was a male character repeatedly shows signs of power hunger and ignorance of the suggestions form people around him. Moreover, he treats women as they have less power than men. When Antigone defied his order, he says, “Now if she thus can flout authority Unpunished, I am woman, she the man. (Antigone p. 201 Kindle Edition)”

In the world today, we are enjoying the technology and innovation and anyone seems able to change the world. But things like #meetoo moments and Kavanaugh hearing slapped so hard on our face telling us we are still struggling about basic human equality. We still ironically fall into Greek wrote thousands of years ago. Women still make less salary than average, and we again repeatedly hear they were being ignored. It may be difficult to relate ourselves to the groups who suffer from those consequences. But tragedies provide examples of characters’ lowest moments for us to expand our perspectives on life. To see the black and white, good or bad, unfortunate consequences but more importantly, the hope characters like Antigone brought us. We need the Greek tragedies to arouse the spirit of ego and revive humanity spirits. Tragedies pushed things to extremes, and by doing this, they were showing us what we are doing in our in our earthly world.

OPPO Find X enabling google assistant

I downloaded Google Assistant on my Find X from play store and it shows “The Google Assistant isn’t available on this device.” Took me a while to fix it.

Make sure you have the newest version of Google Service Framework(usually you do) and check if you have Google Partner Setup installed(

Now go to settings and change your system language to French. After switching language go to google assistant and enable it. The process should be straightforward even you don’t understand French. After enabling the assistant switch back to English. Now you should be all set.