by Andrew Wu '19
To all who’ve labored over, laughed at, scoffed, overpassed, enjoyed, hated, or contributed to the seven Puzzles of the Week that have hitherto defined my Puzzle canon--
It is with a keen solicitude and with careful consideration that I have decided to lay down the vaunted mantle of “Puzzle Writer,” and retire to the more subdued cloister of “Puzzle Curator.” Whilst I shall still edit puzzles and find worthy authors of them, no longer (at least for the most part) shall I play an active role in their creation. Instead, this charge is conferred upon Andrew Wu ‘19, and possibly a rotating weekly syndicate of puzzlers as well, for whom I have the greatest expectations and in whom the highest confidence. While some details are still to be ironed out, please send responses to this week’s puzzle to Andrew Wu.
Curate ut valeatis,
Nolan W. Musslewhite ‘20
There were no successful solutions to either part of last week’s puzzle (however, there were some discrepancies and changes that likely could have precluded correct solutions—as Mr. Rick DuPuy pointed out, the lack of a k-term in the equation lent a myriad of uncertainty to the problem; I ought to have indicated that k should be assumed to be 0).
Answer to and commentary on Puzzle #7:
Classification: Hard. For the main part of the puzzle, the temptation was to plug and chug with the formulae given, perhaps attempting to use calculus to factor in the length of the rope. However, one was required to realize that the required rope length, 50 feet, could never possibly reach 3 feet off the ground, given 30-foot poles; the rope would only reach 5 feet off the ground, even if the two poles were overlapping (30 – [50/2] = 5). Hence, there was no possible solution to the main problem. As for the bonus, it was a relatively simple calculation, because rope length was unlimited (and hence no calculus or catenary–distorting operations were necessary). I shall use a graph to illustrate it best (via Desmos.com):
As can be seen, for pole height 30 and catenary where a = 15, the absolute value of both x-terms is 19.754.
Andrew Wu (send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org)
This Week’s Puzzle: This position was achieved through a series of legal chess moves. Find who played last (white/black).
by Sophie Andersen '21
Historically, America is a country based on immigration. With the exception of Native Americans, the original inhabitants of our land that have been continually exploited for centuries, the majority of Americans have ancestors who immigrated here. The development of all aspects of this country have been influenced by immigrants: our culture, levels of innovation, economy, and diversity. People come to America for a myriad of reasons. Some are pushed out of their own countries, while others come to escape war and persecution. Many come with the belief that America holds the promise of a better life. After all, the Declaration of Independence reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The topic of immigration and citizenship has generated a lot of conversation and controversy in America recently. Our president, Donald Trump, has been very outspoken in his views and motivates his supporters by proclaiming that “illegal” immigrants are a significant and disproportionate source of criminal activity. However, a study published in Social Science Quarterly found this generalization to be untrue, finding there to be no correlation between illegal immigrants and disproportionate levels of violence. In 2017, Trump imposed a travel ban that prohibited citizens from seven majority Muslim countries from receiving visas. More than 700 travelers were detained and 60,000 visas were revoked. He attempted to end DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows people without criminal records who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to receive benefits of not being deported for a renewable two-year period, and the opportunity for a work permit. This program has reduced the number of illegal immigrant households living in poverty, and most economists say that DACA has a net benefit to the economy of the U.S. (Center for American Progress). In February of this year, the Trump administration began separating minor children entering America from Mexico from their parents or relatives, announcing a “zero tolerance policy.” The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that this had caused “irreparable harm” to the children. Recently, he has sent to 5,000 troops to the Mexican border in anticipation of a caravan of Central American migrants.
In his first State of the Union address in January 2018, Trump delineated his plan for immigration reform. This included stopping the diversity visa lottery, which my mom won in 1995, allowing her to stay in America. In October of this year, Trump stated that he intends to remove the right of citizenship to people born in America to foreign nationals. My mom is from Japan, and my dad is from Norway. They both moved here to attend college and never left. My mom became an American citizen recently, after the results of the 2016 election, while my dad still lives here on a visa as an expatriate. While it was not the sole reason, my mom felt the responsibility of relinquishing her Japanese citizenship so that my brother and I’s right to live in America would never be threatened. The removal of birthright citizenship is a direct violation of the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution, which states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” My parents came to America for opportunity and education, and to pursue what they couldn’t in their home countries. I have seen firsthand how America can change people’s lives and because of this, I believe Trump’s outlook and policies on immigration are unconstitutional.
by Ashley Frago '19
What makes a good leader, and what factors are taken into consideration when casting the ballot for nominated officials? I have pondered over this question many times, not only over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, but also most recently with the midterm elections. Particularly, in relation to the political, social, and economic issues that have risen since his election and the way in which these things have been handled by our country’s leaders makes me wonder if our country’s values of “liberty and justice for all” are truly respected by all. Especially with the caravan of immigrants aiming to enter the United States, many Americans, including our own president, have not demonstrated the respect and consideration that is expected from a person in such a high position of authority.
Currently, with roughly five to seven thousand people expected to be a part of the caravan, the reactions they have received from people cognizant of the situation have not been welcoming. In addition, not only have they suffered and been threatened, but also, they have been accused of being criminals by our own President. While I partially understand why many Americans may not want people to be entering the country illegally, these people must understand that there are two parts to every story, and that whether or not someone should enter a country does not give anyone the right to treat another person as if they were not deserving of the same dignity and respect. Whenever I am watching the news and this topic arises, often what I hear from those in opposition of the caravan is that the people fleeing their countries are criminals who will bring more crime into the U.S or that they are taking American jobs. This last part particularly frustrates me because when people say that immigrants are taking American jobs, what they should realize is that immigrants are taking the jobs that Americans in the United States DON’T WANT. If we are being realistic, it is very rare to see a person not of color working in maintenance, cleaning services, child care, or garbage pickup. In our own schools, the majority of those working in our lunchrooms and cleaning our classrooms are all people who came to this country not because they want to steal the jobs of others, but because their own countries are too unstable to be able to provide them with the same opportunities or any opportunities at all.
Therefore, I believe that if people like Trump and his supporters really want to diminish illegal immigration and prevent more caravans from entering the United States, then they need to stop attacking these migrants by spreading inaccurate information and actually act by providing support for the countries that truly need it.
by Willa Spalter '21
Our country is in a scary place right now. Hate speech is on the rise, and all around us we are witnessing the horrible events that stem from this rhetoric. The total number of hate crimes in the 10 largest cities rose for the fourth straight year in 2017 to reach its highest level in over a decade (NAACP). In cities like San Jose and Philadelphia, hate crimes have increased by more than 200 percent from 2014 to 2017 (WGRZ). Many blame the rise in these hate crimes on culture that comes from Donald Trump’s leadership, in which people are emboldened to express prejudice and hatred. His rhetoric insinuates a justification of the speech and actions of bigots, anti-Semites, xenophobes, Islamophobes, and many others. Right now, hate crimes are only gaining momentum, as we have so clearly seen in the horrific events over the past couple of weeks.
On Saturday, November 3rd, our country witnessed its deadliest attack on Jewish people ever against the backdrop of this toxic American political climate. A gunman walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and killed 11 people. The victims were all attending a Saturday morning Shabbat service when this attack took place. The victims included brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, who wed in the Tree of Life Synagogue over 60 years ago, and 97-year-old Holocaust survivor Rose Mallinger. As the gunman surrendered to the police he told them that “all Jews must die” (CNN).
As a Jewish person, it was unconscionable to think that in the United States, in 2018, 11 Jewish people were killed in their place of worship on a Shabbat morning, solely for being Jewish. I was heartbroken, angered, and confused by how someone could have this much hate in them, but I was also not surprised. Living in an America where our president calls the anti-Semitic people in Charlottesville “very fine people” after they chanted “Jews will not replace us,” I felt as though this shooting was almost predictable.
Throughout almost all of our history, Jews have continuously been persecuted, the most notable period being the Holocaust. Many people have said that before the Pittsburgh shooting they thought that anti-Semitism was no longer a significant occurrence in America, but in reality, anti-Semitism is still very prevalent. According to FBI statistics, Jewish people were the victims of more reported hate crimes than any other religious minority in 2016 (CNN). The Anti- Defamation League (ADL) says that 2017 saw a 57% increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes from the previous year, and they reported the second highest record of hate crimes since they started collecting data in 1979. The ADL also reports that there has been a stark rise in anti-Semitic hate speech online — what was once a rare instance is now an everyday occurrence. Now more than ever we must come together as a nation and continue the practice of “olam chesed yibaneh,” or “building this world from love,” so that not one more person has to lose their life as the result of hatred.
by Madeline Fitzgerald '21
The Trump Administration is planning to redefine sex and gender. According to the Health and Human Services Draft Proposal on the creation of a new legal definition of sex, “…sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth” (CNN). Transgender people do not identify with the sex with which they were assigned at birth. They can identify as male, female, gender non-binary or many other identities. Trump wishes to make the United States a country of cisgender people (a cisgender person is someone who identifies as the sex they were given at birth). By defining sex and gender as only cisgender, Trump is ignoring a major part of the United States population who do not identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. The Trump Administration’s definition of sex would not erase transgender people and all people who do not identify as cisgender; instead, it would exclude them from human rights and eliminate them in the eyes of the government.
Gender and sex should not be defined by the government as they are personal to everyone’s identity. The current government views gender as a binary concept when, in reality, gender is nonbinary and is a spectrum encompassing many identities. Our government is supposed to serve the people, but how can they do that if they wish to erase an entire part of the population? All gender identities are valid and should be accepted and acknowledged by our government. We are all human, and as residents of this country, we deserve the same basic human rights with no discrimination based on our gender identity.
Whether or not this country’s current administration chooses to open their eyes to the reality of gender as a spectrum, all identities will always exist and should always be welcomed, accepted and never erased.
by Greta Drefke '19
Every fall new college students seek to escape a world in which their parents filter the experiences to which they are exposed. But are they exchanging one set of filters for another? Since 2000, colleges across the United States have revoked the invitations of over 300 previously scheduled campus speakers. (Villasenor) Student reactions against the views of these speakers typically caused these revocations. Many colleges are disinviting more controversial speakers in fear of backlash from students. For example, in 2016, the University of California, Los Angeles disinvited Ben Shapiro, a controversial columnist, three days before his scheduled speech after protestors demanded the school cancel his visit. (Stephens)
Sometimes student protests even turn violent. In early 2016, students at Middlebury, a small liberal-arts college, used violence to express their disapproval of a speaker’s views, rather than engage in a discussion of his work. Last March, a student group asked Charles Murray, a political scientist and author, to speak at about his most recent book about class division in America. Murray is most commonly known for writing the 1994 book, The Bell Curve, which argues that a statistical correlation exists between socioeconomic status and race with intelligence. While speaking, dozens of students shouted him down and pulled fire alarms. As he and a professor attempted to leave the campus, the two were violently pushed and shoved. The professor suffered a concussion after a student grabbed her hair and twisted her neck. An estimated 100-150 students participated in the protest and the college disciplined sixty-seven students. (Stephens) Since the protest, Middlebury has avoided inviting speakers with controversial views.
A higher education is rooted in encouraging the exchange of ideas. Colleges’ filtering of speakers with controversial views does not help students. It only hinders students’ ability to fully engage with all sides of current issues. As a result, students are less exposed to challenges to their political views and opportunities to learn how to engage constructively with people with different opinions.
As Robert Zimmer, the president of the University of Chicago, declared, “It is not the proper role of the university to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive…. Concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas” (Zimmer). Colleges should not shelter their students from uncomfortable conversations. These conversations can lead to greater awareness of others’ experiences and perspectives. Colleges have a responsibility to include all students in inclusive discussions, not to protect the students from the discussions themselves.
When colleges disinvite speakers with controversial opinions, they limit freedom of speech on campus. Some students misunderstand what this means. They believe freedom of speech is the right to express one’s beliefs as long as they are not offensive to others. However, Norman Siegal, a civil rights lawyer, explains that freedom of speech is not just protected when a person agrees with the speaker, but also when “he or she strongly believes that the speaker’s views are repugnant, offensive, and yes, even bigoted and hateful, yet still allows him or her to speak” (Siegal). Freedom of speech allows the voicing to alternate perspective to those commonly held by students. As Zimmer explains: “Preventing others from speaking and listening to one another is arrogating to oneself the right of freedom of expression, but denying it to others” (Zimmer). Censoring certain perspectives on campuses undermines the existence of healthy exchanges of ideas among students.
One study emphasizes why sharing diverse views on campus is important. A poll of hundreds of colleges across the United States found that less than one-fourth of college seniors “often spoke with people whose political views differed from their own” (Belkin). By inviting speakers with differing views to voice their opinions, schools expose the students to different views they likely will interact with after leaving college.
Valid reasons to disinvite a campus speaker can exist. Sometimes, the cost of security for a speaker may be beyond the school’s budget. The University of California, Berkeley budgets over one million dollars each year for the security of speakers. (Stephens) More importantly, colleges are justified in rejecting a speaker who advocates physical violence against others. Colleges should not allow direct threats of harm to anyone. However, unless the words of a speaker directly call for violence, colleges should permit speakers of a wide range of beliefs to speak.
Many students reject this notion. They prefer to isolate themselves in an environment where their beliefs go unquestioned. A recent study by the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public research organization, found that 51% of students believe disrupting a speaker by loudly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker is acceptable. The study also found that 20% of students believe that using physical violence to prevent a speaker from speaking is acceptable. The survey also showed that a less than half of students would like to “create an open learning environment where students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints, even if it means allowing speech that is offensive or biased against certain groups of people” (Villasenor). These studies show that students on their own may not understand the importance of a diverse community of ideas.
In the real world, students will not be sheltered and difficult topics cannot be avoided. Students must be prepared to live in a society where they will confront opinions they do not share. Students need the help of colleges to prepare them for this world. Harvey Klehr, a politics and history professor at Emory University affirms: “The world is a nasty place. If you want to confront it, change it, you have to understand the arguments of nasty people” (McLaughlin). By learning how to respect their opponents, understand their perspectives, and sympathize with their intentions, college students will be better equipped to create positive change in an unfiltered world.
by Harry Grigorian '19
Fortnite and free food, Starbucks and Snapchat: that’s what 16-year-olds know. Some 16-year-olds have thought-out, rational opinions on real-world problems, but unfortunately, the vast majority receive their news from Facebook, friends, or parents with a strong filter. Very few 16-year-olds will have worked a real job (not just shoveling snow); very few 16-year-olds will have paid taxes; very few 16-year-olds will have been educated enough to understand the nuances and intricacies of our political system. 16-year-olds have not felt the boost of a good economy or the weight of a bad one.
16-year-olds are not accountable for paying debts nor do they understand credit. They have not struggled to pay bills nor have they served on a jury. 16-year-olds have not served in our military. 16-year-olds have not nearly approached a fully developed brain. 16-year-olds can be easily persuaded by slimy politicians and demagogues.
Recall your 16-year-old self (or if you’re 16, come back to this article in 2 years). For the Republicans, could your 16-year-old mind tell me the following: why don’t you like Hillary Clinton? Why do you like saying “lock her up”? Can you explain to me what she actually did? Why did the Republican-appointed James Comey not indict her if she was guilty? How much can you tell me about her policies, her platforms when she was running? Or did you just not like her personality? What can you tell me about her time before she ran for President? For the Democrats: why don’t you like Donald Trump? If you think he’s racist, can you point to multiple specific policies he’s implemented that would support that? Can you describe the current state of the economy? Have you followed the stock market and consumer confidence since his election?
Some of you might have been able to rattle off perfect, reasoned-through answers, but the vast, vast majority of American 16-year-olds would have absolutely nothing. By lowering the voting age, we are knowingly making the electorate less educated.
Also, there’s no inherent problem with the 18-year-old age minimum. 18 is when one legally becomes an adult, so the age just makes sense. Politically active 16-year-olds can still make a difference (we’ve seen huge spikes in youth activism recently), but there’s no reason to arm the uninformed with the most powerful weapon in our republic: the vote.
by Nisa Qarles '21
Since Dr. Ford and Justice (then the Hon.) Brett Kavanaugh’s testimonies in early October, I feel that my personal relationships with my classmates, teachers, coaches, and administrators have grown stronger.
Firstly, at NCS, I have understood even more the unity that all-girls schools foster among their students. Our bond extends far beyond our desire to learn and common interests. Rather, there is a comfort that you share with people who know exactly what you are experiencing. When my friends and I watched Dr. Ford’s testimony, we didn’t just see a sexual assault survivor, but we saw ourselves. We are fifteen and sixteen years old. We attend an all-girls school with a brother school on the same campus. We have been to the Safeway where Dr. Ford saw alleged witness to her assault Mark Judge (CNN), to Georgetown Prep, and to Holton. We have had a myriad of uncomfortable experiences. We are Dr. Ford.
In the conversations that I had with my classmates during and after this case, I discovered that our unity stems from the fears we all share as women. Fear of being catcalled when walking down the street. Fear of walking across the Close by ourselves at night. Fear of being accused of “asking for it.” Most of all, fear of not being heard and validated when we really need to be, just as Dr. Ford was not.
Additionally, during one of our upper school Chapel slots and in one of my seminar classes, my classmates and I have had opportunities to discuss the case with our teachers and administrators. They have shared personal stories with us about their own uncomfortable experiences which has allowed us to relate to them on a level that we had not prior. We have also unfortunately had to reiterate what I call the unofficial rules of being a woman in our society: never go to the bathroom by yourself; get your own drink; never separate at parties or dances; and never walk home alone.
Not surprisingly to me, I have also had conversations with my classmates from STA about this case. As a member of the cross-country team, I have developed a bond with my STA teammates just as I have with my NCS classmates. However, when this case was at its height, I was admittedly concerned that they would not want to empathize with me or their other NCS teammates. Fortunately, though, I had more conversations with my STA teammates with whom I would have not otherwise talked. They asked what they can do to support us and to understand. I even had a conversation with one of my STA coaches in which he praised me and my NCS classmates for the strength and determination with which we handled our disappointment and anger. Although my STA teammates are not the entirety of the STA student body, they gave me hope that as a community, we can combat these issues together with time and patience. In fact, the two co-presidents of the new Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) club, are from my cross-country team.
I recognize that change will not happen overnight and that some are more open to it than others, but I am optimistic. We just have to make sure that our conversations about these topics do not end when the news stops covering them. Change will only come when we are willing to come together to bring it.
by Will Holland '20
Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night, garnering what is projected to be a near thirty seat majority in the 116th Congress. Meanwhile, Republicans added to their majority in the Senate, with the potential of a gain of one to three seats as of Saturday.
The different direction in both chambers appeared to reflect the growing polarization of the nation, with Democrats taking back the House due to suburban rejection of President Trump and the GOP adding to their Senate majority with help from gains in rural, overwhelmingly white states in North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri. The result only accentuated the division first observed in the wake of the 2016 election, with college educated and women voters favoring the Democrats and less educated and male voters the Republicans.
President Trump sounded confident in his remarks on Wednesday morning, declaring that the election was “close to a complete victory” and promising to investigate Democrats if they attempted to use their power in the House to subpoena him for his tax returns. Despite his confrontational approach and rush to appear as the winner on Tuesday night, the President will face a new reality in January with regard to his legislative agenda.
Any new attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut corporate taxes, or roll back environmental regulations are sure to be dead on arrival in a Democratic House. Furthermore, the House Intelligence Committee under the chairmanship of Adam Schiff (D-CA) is set to be a thorn in the president’s side as it begins to investigate his ties to Russia and their past business dealings. Such requests have been non-existent under the Republican leadership of the Committee as Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has seemed less than eager to probe the president’s alleged malfeasance.
Furthermore, the suburban shift to the Democrats is a warning to Republicans seeking to maintain their hold on the Senate and White House in 2020. That year, Republicans will be defending key Senate seats in Maine, North Carolina, and Colorado while the president tries to replicate his surprise electoral college victory in 2016. Across the nation, signals of an uphill climb were evident in states key to another Republican victory.
In Georgia, a state more Republican than North Carolina, Democrat Stacey Abrams came within just a few percentage points of winning the governorship and in Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis was elected governor with a win of more than eight percentage points. Both candidates’ performances were based on strong support in the suburbs. Democrats also won both the state and governor races in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the three states pivotal in assuring President Trump’s ascension to the White House.
The political ramifications that will develop as a result of Tuesday night should not overshadow the historic nature of the election. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Debra Haaland (D-NM) became the first Native American women elected to Congress while Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will become the first muslim congresswomen come January. Jared Polis (D-CO) became the first openly gay governor in the country’s history and Kristi Noem (R-KS) will become the first female governor of Kansas. However, no statistic is more striking than the more than the number of female candidates that won election to Congress on Tuesday. For the first time in the nation’s history, more than 100 women will sit in Congress.
The political climate is unlikely to ease in the future. After the defeat of moderate members of the party, many Republicans remaining in the House of Representatives will be steadfastly loyal to the president. Likewise, some members of the Democratic caucus might call for impeachment. While the potential for a compromise over an infrastructure bill remains, its chances will most likely be determined by the relationship the president forges with the new Speaker.
For now, one party-rule is over. President Trump will have to cope with a Congress that does not adhere to his legislative demands and at times seeks to weaken his position as chief executive. How the president deals with the challenge remains anybody’s guess.
Last Thursday, Middle and Upper school students convened in Hearst auditorium for a Global Conversations Panel Discussion entitled “Start your Start Up.” Organized by the International Committee of the Parents Association and moderated by Mr. Sahr, this event is one of a series of panels whose goal is to highlight the stories of young, inspiring female business professionals from the DC Area. The last panel, which took place in April, focused on the role and value of journalism from the perspective of women employed by media agencies such as National Geographic, Vox, and the Washington Post. Last week’s panel featured six women who have either launched their own business or are in the process of starting a business venture. Their projects invent solutions to problems in DC area, communities abroad, and, more generally, reflect a broader search for social justice.
For Vanessa Gil, the search for a creative method to help children with autism reflected the personal struggle she faced when she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. She is now developing an empowering video game for children with autism and is currently working to develop her product alongside other entrepreneurs in Georgetown’s Halcyon House, an incubator for early stage social entrepreneurs. Another panelist, Amanant Anamed, named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, is working in the Halycon house as well to develop her product “Soapen,” a toy to help promote hygiene in South Asia.
At the local level, panelist Meghan Ogilvie is helping to improve the lives of veterans and their spouses through an education fellowship program at her bakery, Dog Tag. Moreover, a late addition to the panel was Dawn Myers, an NCS alum who is currently working to manufacture hair products for black women.
During the first portion of the panel, the panelists responded to questions posed by Mr. Sahr. During this time, the women discussed their projects, but more generally spoke about the path of their professional careers. A common thread among them was spontaneity; none of them initially intended to be entrepreneurs but found their calling when observing deficiencies in their respective communities. Lauren Biel, co-founder of DC Greens, describes how she “did a lot of meandering.” When discussing the deliberations that she made in the early stages of her career, Mrs. Biel offered a notable piece of advice: “all the doors lead to the same room, so all you have to do is walk through one.”
In the last thirty minutes of the panel, Middle and Upper school students alike were given the opportunity to ask questions. When asked by junior Jada Fife about their definitions of success, many of the panelists mentioned how they defined success by the longevity of their business and its ability to continue without them. In that same vein, a large theme of the panel was the importance of developing a network of contacts and finding, as Ms. Ogilvie puts it, “your tribe.” This conversation is continuing and each of the women has offered NCS students opportunities for internships and mentoring. If interested, please contact the International Committee.