Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Students enjoy ski trip despite less than ideal conditions

Tara Cooney and Devon Beacham
Staff Writers

The 2017 New Hope-Solebury Ski Club Trip was a success! Students departed from the school at 3:15 p.m. on Friday. After several hours on the bus, the group stopped at a rest stop for a quick snack and a much needed stretch of the legs. In a half hour, everybody was back on the bus and on the way to Vermont. At about 9 p.m., the New Hope buses pulled into the Holiday Inn in Rutland. Before bed, some students opted to take a quick swim in the pool. After lights out at 11 p.m., the students passed out, getting their rest for the big day of skiing ahead.
 Once the group arrived at Killington Mountain the next morning, everybody was pumped and ready for the day. At first conditions were rough. There was an immense amount of fog, and the warm weather caused quite a bit of slush. As the day progressed, however, the fog cleared for a very successful day of skiing. The group retreated back to the hotel, where some students swam while others played cards and poker. After dinner the students continued to hang out and have fun. Once again, lights out at 11 p.m. to prepare for the second day of skiing.
 At the mountain the next morning, the weather was colder, and the ground had hardened from the day before. With the exception of a couple icy patches, it was a beautiful day for skiing with great conditions. At 2:15 p.m., the bus pulled out of the Killington Mountain parking lot for the last time, and the students began the six hour drive back to New Hope. After a quick refresh at a rest stop halfway through the drive, the group arrived at the school at about 8:45 p.m. Everybody rushed to grab their stuff and get home, making sure to thank the chaperones for such a fun trip.
 MacKenzie Meyers, a freshman that attended the ski trip said: “The conditions weren’t very good, but I had a ton of fun with my friends. It was a great time. I’m really happy I went and will definitely be going again next year!”

 The weekend of skiing was an amazing experience for everybody involved, and the students were very glad to have gone.

St. Baldrick's fundraiser ignites community

Danny Doherty
Features Editor

After months of preparation of fundraising, New Hope-Solebury hosted the most successful fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s foundation in the history of the event in our area. Just two years ago, Laurie Palau organized the first event at our school, with the event raising over $30,000. Last year over 500 local members turned out, 80 people shaved their heads, and over $74,000 was raised. This year, nearly a thousand members of the community turned out, over 100 people shaved their heads, and over $110,000 was raised according to the St. Baldrick’s website.
 The first two years of the event, it raised money in the honor of Ethan Toohey and Robert Nagg, two students that we lost to childhood cancer some years ago. This year was no different, but as well the memory of another lost soul, Dominic Liples of Doylestown was honored. Dominic was nine years old when he lost a nine-month battle with cancer. Just over $48,500 was donated in the memory of Dominic.
 The event is always a day full of fun. Friends and family get their heads shaved, play games, eat some food, and make some arts and crafts. Local businesses come and sell their products, and silent auctions are held. As always, the event this year was a fun place for the greater New Hope community to gather and have a good time in the memory of loved ones lost, and in the fight to stop childhood cancer altogether.
 Our high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society has helped run a portion of the event over the years, and this year was no different. Last year’s crew raised a few hundred dollars for the cause, and this year’s raised $2,017 through fundraisers during Spirit Week and the Holiday pie contest. Efforts lead by President Bella Devito and advisors Mrs. Shade and Mrs. Anderson allowed the group to take the fundraising to new heights.
 Without a doubt, if you missed it this year, be sure to attend next year to support a great cause!

Poker Pros Flushed out by Computer

Joshua House
Staff Writer

In a recent 20-day no-limit Texas Hold'em competition, “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” an AI by the name Libratus, took down poker pros by a margin of over 1.75 million chips. This took place from Jan. 11 and finished up on Jan. 30 at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. Libratus was developed by a team at Carnegie Mellon University including Prof. Tuomas Sandholm and Ph. D. student Noam Brown.  Last year, a similar system named Claudico that was developed by the same team lost by over 750,000 chips to four other poker pros.
 This might not seem like a big deal, but it is shocking for both the poker community and the programming one. First of all, people have been trying for years to develop computers that could beat the best of the best in given games. A turning point came in May 1997  when the IBM Deep Blue Computer beat Chess Grandmaster Gary Kasparov. The difference between a computer beating someone in chess and beating a player in poker is in the game. Chess is a game that is all strategy and a computer can calculate out all possible moves and outcomes. Poker is a whole different game due to how it involves both skill, luck, and a lot of bluffing. In poker there are situations that players and the computer can’t really prepare for just because of how infrequently they happen. Thus the AI has to develop its own unique way of thinking, which has been a game changer for human players.
 Libratus over-bets frequently, wagering far more to win a hand than is currently up for grabs in the pot.
 “If you have $200 in the middle and $20,000 in your stack, you can bet that,” says Doug Polk, a poker pro who bested a previous AI built by CMU in 2015. “But humans don’t really like that. It feels like you’re risking a lot of money to win so little. The computer doesn’t have that psychology. It just looks at the best play.”  
 The way that the computer was able to pull this off came from its ability to learn from its mistakes and its complete disregard for the value of money. Unlike a human, Libratus doesn’t have any plans to use money to buy items it wants; it only wants to win. When Libratus messed up early on, the poker pros found that it rarely ever made the same mistake twice. It kept changing its game and remained unpredictable for even the best to figure out. Also Libratus would do insane overbet bluffs for a small pot of chips that poker pros would be forced to fold.  When the poker pros were sleeping in between eight-hour sessions, the computer would still be busy at work learning from itself. What is kind of scary in itself is that the actual creators of this system do not even know how the computer itself plays.
 But what are the implications of Libratus to the programming community?
 Frank Pfenning Head of the Carnegie Mellon school of Computer Science stated when asked about the big win: “Developing an AI that can do that successfully is a tremendous step forward scientifically and has numerous applications. Imagine that your smartphone will someday be able to negotiate the best price on a new car for you. That's just the beginning.”

 In the future these forms of computers could have use in  military strategy, business-to-business negotiations, finance, and even in the medical field due to its ability to make split second decisions.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blue denies Gold the opportunity of a 4-peat

Riley Brennan
Features and A&E editor

Spirit Week 2017 has definitely been one to remember, with the Blue team taking home the victory this year. The theme the student government decided on this year was Pixar, which has been very popular among students. Junior Erica Brennan loves this year’s theme: “The theme this year reminds me of my childhood, and makes me feel really nostalgic!”
 Each grade was assigned a different Pixar movie to decorate their hallway:  Freshman, A Bug's Life; Sophomore, Finding Nemo; Juniors, Toy Story, and the Seniors,  UP. Different Pixar movies were also used as themes for the different activities that were held at night at the school.
 On Monday night the school hosted its annual Luau, but this year it modeled itself after the movie Ratatouille, and featured Remy’s Bake Off. Students competed for their team by bringing in homemade baked goods to be judged. On Tuesday, there was a girls’ basketball game, which was orange-themed in honour of Melanie Abele being cancer free. Wednesday and Thursday night were dedicated to decorating the hallways.
 There were two competitions held before the Friday finale. On Wednesday, the Student Government hosted a Pixar-themed Family Feud contest during fifth period. The Blue team proved to know the teachers best, winning the game show. Then on Thursday the famous “talent show for the untalented”--now known as “New Hope’s Got Talent”--was held during third period. Many humorous acts performed. One of the Gold team’s acts secured the first place spot while the Blue team took home second and third.
  Then came the tallies for the coin and the can drives. On Thursday the coins from the coin wars were counted after school, and the Blue team brought in the winning total of $1400 compared to the  Gold team’s with $700. Finally, on Friday, the final day of Spirit Week, the cans were counted. The Gold team beat out Blue with 2500 pounds versus 500 pounds. All of the coins and cans went to charity, making it impossible for anyone to truly “lose.” With the Blue team winning the coins and the Gold team winning the cans, it all came down to the hallways and the games.
 The last two periods of Friday were dedicated to the Spirit Week games. Students from every grade competed in multiple events: the obstacle courses, izzy dizzy, tug of war, one-on-one tug of war, half-court basketball shot, trash can basketball, and more. During the games, the winners of the hallway competition were announced. The senior class took first place, freshman got second, sophomores took third, and juniors earned fourth. When the games came to an end, it was finally time to tally the points and announce the winner of Spirit Week. The usual unity speeches were made, and then Mr. G took the floor, students on both teams in the bleachers cheering for their team as he held up gold and blue pompoms, until finally throwing up the blue one, granting the senior class their second Spirit Week win, and the freshman’s first.

 Winning or losing didn’t seem to matter to students because that night many could be seen in attendance at the annual “I Heart Techno” dance. The dance helped to bring all of the grades back together, and draw to a close the end of an awesome week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

North Korea Nuclear Missile Test rattles South Pacific and Washington

Victoria Siano
News Editor

On Monday, Feb. 13, North Korea announced that it had managed to successfully test a new kind of nuclear-capable missile, called Pukguksong-2, that uses solid-fuel technology.
 The test itself had taken place on Sunday, where the tested missile traveled about 310 miles and fell harmlessly into the sea after taking a high-trajectory that had taken it into space. Despite this impressive range, the importance of the launch lies in the fact that now it will be much harder for the South Korea, Japan, and the United States to have any warning of a launch in a real conflict between the countries. Unlike previous rockets, solid-fuel rockets like Pukguksong-2, could provide little advanced warning time, seeing as it can be stored on mobile launchers and can be ready to launch in just a few minutes.
 The news was broken to President Trump Saturday evening (Sunday in North Korea) right after officials received news of the testing, and with it came new complications, as the weapon would make it harder to counter the country’s missile and nuclear program, and make it more difficult to threaten to strike North Korean launch sites.
 In regards to America’s response to this, it is still unclear what course of action the Trump administration will take, however, the American Ambassador for the United Nations Security Council, Nikki R. Haley, has warned that the Trump administration will see that it will hold Pyongyang accountable “not with [its] words, but with [its] actions.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

President Obama’s strikes chords of hope in Farewell Address

Liz Donahue
Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in his hometown of Chicago, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, gave his farewell address. Wife Michelle and daughter Malia were both in attendance, however his younger daughter, Sasha, was not there, sparking attention. However, it was later learned that she stayed in Washington D.C. to study for an exam she had the next morning.
 After beginning his speech and recapping a bit, the crowd started chanting “four more years,” to which he replied that he couldn’t.
 He took on the topic of national security, saying: “Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, [but] our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists, including Bin Laden...and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.”
He also reminded the audience that betraying American principles would be the country’s downfall, claiming that “Rivals like Russia and China cannot match our influence around the world — unless we give up what stand for… we’re all in this together...we rise or fall as one.” The former president also addressed religion, women, and LGBT rights in his speech. He honored all those that have served our country.
 President Obama also gave a shout out which, to some, felt like more of a love letter, to now-former First Lady Michelle Obama, stating: "For the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn't ask for, and you made it your own, with grace and with grit and with style… you have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.”
 Next, he addressed his two daughters. He described them both as “kind and thoughtful and full of passion.” There was no mention of Sasha’s absence.
 Finally, he turned to his vice president, Joe Biden. "You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best. Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain I gained a brother."

 Towards the end of his speech, Obama does arguably what he does best: stirring up emotions in the crowd. He said that he had done the “job of his life” and made it clear that he won’t be retiring anytime soon. He used his speech to send out the overall message that American democracy is only possible because of the promise of inclusiveness and diversity. He used his speech to once again relay the idea that we need to stand together as one nation and to remember the diversity between us, something that he's worked hard to maintain and foster throughout his presidency.

Poisoning of Vladimir Kara-Murza

Owen Roberts
Staff Writer

Vladimir Karza-Murza, a prominent critic of Russian politics, especially the Putin administration, was rushed to the hospital on the 7th after experiencing a heightened heart rate and difficulty breathing. He is currently in critical condition and has fallen into a coma. In 2015, he experienced almost identical symptoms, which has led many, including his wife, to expect foul play.
 Vladimir Kara-Murza is an outspoken critic of the Kremlin, and an advocate for Open Russia, a company who works for human rights in Russia. Although he lives in the US, he frequently returns to russia to organize protests. He was visiting Russia most recently to film a documentary about Boris Nemtsov, another Putin critic and opposition leader who was murdered in 2015.
 Many believe that Kara Murza has been poisoned, including his wife, who told the times that the doctor identified “acute intoxication by an unidentified substance” as the cause of his comatose state.

 This certainly wouldn't be the first suspected political assassination for the Putin Administration. In 2006, the Russian Parliament created a law allowing the president to use special forces to kill extremists outside of Russia’s borders. The law defines extremists as “those slandering the individual occupying the post of president of the Russian Federation.” Maybe the highest profile case of a suspected poisoning would be the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian journalist and critic who was hospitalized for radiation poisoning after he met with two former KGB agents. The poisoning was attributed to polonium-210, seemingly slipped into his food during lunch.