Google+ Followers

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Who Was Desmond Doss? - Video



Rank and organization: Private First ClassUnited States Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Urasoe MuraOkinawaRyukyu Islands, April 29, 1945 – May 21, 1945.
Entered service at: Lynchburg, Virginia
G.O. No.: 97, November 1, 1945.
Medal of Honor Citation:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private First Class Desmond Thomas Doss, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty from April 29 – 21 May 1945, while serving with the Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division, in action at Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands. Private First Class Doss was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machine gun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of one arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions, Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.






Wednesday, 25 January 2017

20 Useful Websites Every Student Should Know About - video and information


  • Stack Exchange – a collection of question-and-answer communities. If you’ve got questions about chemistry, math, programming, or pretty much anything else, you’ll probably find an answer here.
  • Wolfram Alpha – a “computational knowledge engine”, this site can calculate basically any math problem and come up with data on all kinds of things (including all Pokemon data!)! Step-by-step solutions to math problems used to be free, but they cost money now. For a free (but less easy-to-use) solution, try SymPy Gamma.
  • StudentRate – a site that aggregates student deals and discounts on clothes, travel, textbooks, electronics, and lots of other things.
  • Sleepyti.me – uses the sciences of REM cycles to calculate the optimal time you should go to bed in order to feel well-rested, based on when you plan to wake up.
  • Habitica – formerly HabitRPG, this is my favorite tool for building habits and you probably know I’ve talked about it before. If you end up using it, check out the CIG guild – we’re up to around 1,500 members now!
  • Todoist – my task manager of choice. I like the clean design, organizational features, and the fact that all my tasks sync across multiple platforms. However, I will say that the bulk of my task management happens on paper/whiteboards these days. Todoist just functions as one of the quick capture components of my system.
  • Google Calendar – old and trusty. I’ve been using GCal since I was a freshman, and while it hasn’t changed a whole lot since then, it really doesn’t need to. It accessible in any browser, has great smartphone apps, and just works.
  • Dropbox – another app I’ve been using since my early college days, Dropbox keeps all your files synced, updated, and backed up across all your computers. Recently, their browser interface has gotten much better – you can now preview most file types right in the browser without having to download them.
  • Lynda – a huge library of video courses that can help you learn tons of skills, mainly centered around computing and media production. Lynda is particularly good for learning the ins and outs of computer software.
  • Mint – a tool that lets you view all your financial account in one place, track your spending, and set up budgets.
  • Rate My Professors – a site that allows students to write reviews of professors. I don’t take this site’s ratings as the golden truth, but it has steered me towards some great professors in the past.
  • Coggle – a cool little mindmapping (one of my favorite note-taking methods) tool that lives in your browser.
  • Your university website! – If you’re not familiar with it, get on it. Most university websites have course catalogues, schedule planners, financial aid information, scholarship listings, academic calendars, student job boards, and other useful things.
  • Written Kitten – potentially the greatest writing aid ever invented. Set a target word count, and whenever you hit it, you’ll get a new picture of a cat. What could be better? Note: There’s currently a bug that prevents pictures from showing when you set count to 100 words, so set it to at least 200.
  • Cheatography – a really cool site that collects cheat sheets that condense information on all kinds of topics. This could be helpful for building study guides.
  • Bibme – a tool that can help you automatically generate bibliographies and source citations. I like it better than similar tools because it lets you search for books and other sources; if it recognizes what you searched for, it can often auto-fill all the citation fields.
  • Ankiweb – the web component of Anki, my favorite spaced-repetition software. I kinda used Ankiweb as an excuse to put Anki on a list of websites, but it’s legit because it’ll let you study your flashcards in the browser. However, you do need to have Anki downloaded first.
  • Instructables – a site where people can post DIY project tutorials. I put my hanging desk and hanging loft bed projects on there, but you’ll find much more practical projects as well.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Oprah Winfrey - Biography and Life Story of the International Popular Talk Show Host - video

Media giant Oprah Winfrey was born in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted a hit television chat show, People Are Talking. Afterward, she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show. She later became the host of her own, wildly popular program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. That same year, Winfrey launched her own TV network, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Synopsis


Media giant Oprah Winfrey was born in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted a hit television chat show, People Are Talking. Afterward, she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show. She later became the host of her own, wildly popular program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. That same year, Winfrey launched her own TV network, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Oprah's Beginnings

American television host, actress, producer, philanthropist and entrepreneur Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. After a troubled adolescence in a small farming community, where she was sexually abused by a number of male relatives and friends of her mother, Vernita, she moved to Nashville to live with her father, Vernon, a barber and businessman. She entered Tennessee State University in 1971 and began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
In 1976, Oprah Winfrey moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where she hosted the TV chat show People Are Talking. The show became a hit and Winfrey stayed with it for eight years, after which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show, A.M. Chicago. Her major competitor in the time slot was Phil Donahue. Within several months, Winfrey's open, warm-hearted personal style had won her 100,000 more viewers than Donahue and had taken her show from last place to first in the ratings. Her success led to nationwide fame and a role in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 as a nationally syndicated program. With its placement on 120 channels and an audience of 10 million people, the show grossed $125 million by the end of its first year, of which Winfrey received $30 million. She soon gained ownership of the program from ABC, drawing it under the control of her new production company, Harpo Productions ('Oprah' spelled backwards) and making more and more money from syndication.


Success and Fame

In 1994, with talk shows becoming increasingly trashy and exploitative, Winfrey pledged to keep her show free of tabloid topics. Although ratings initially fell, she earned the respect of her viewers and was soon rewarded with an upsurge in popularity. Her projects with Harpo have included the highly rated 1989 TV miniseries, The Women of Brewster Place, which she also starred in. Winfrey also signed a multi-picture contract with Disney. The initial project, 1998's Beloved, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison and starring Winfrey and Danny Glover, got mixed reviews and generally failed to live up to expectations.
Winfrey, who became almost as well-known for her weight loss efforts as for her talk show, lost an estimated 90 pounds (dropping to her ideal weight of around 150 pounds) and competed in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in 1995. In the wake of her highly publicized success, Winfrey's personal chef, Rosie Daley, and trainer, Bob Greene, both published best-selling books.
The media giant contributed immensely to the publishing world by launching her "Oprah's Book Club," as part of her talk show. The program propelled many unknown authors to the top of the bestseller lists and gave pleasure reading a new kind of popular prominence.
With the debut in 1999 of Oxygen Media, a company she co-founded that is dedicated to producing cable and Internet programming for women, Winfrey ensured her place in the forefront of the media industry and as one of the most powerful and wealthy people in show business. In 2002, she concluded a deal with the network to air a prime-time complement to her syndicated talk show. Her highly successful monthly, O: The Oprah Magazine debuted in 2000, and in 2004, she signed a new contract to continue The Oprah Winfrey Show through the 2010-11 season. Now syndicated, the show is seen on nearly 212 U.S. stations and in more than 100 countries worldwide.
In 2005, Winfrey helped give The Color Purple a new life onstage as one of the producers of the eleven-time Tony-nominated musical, which ran on Broadway until 2008. A revival of the musical, which Winfrey co-produced in 2015, won the Tony Award for best revival of a musical. 

The Oprah Winfrey Network

In 2009, Oprah Winfrey announced that she would be ending her program when her contract with ABC ended, in 2011. Soon after, she moved to her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture with Discovery Communications.
Despite a financially rocky start, the network made headlines in January 2013, when it aired an interview between Winfrey and Lance Armstong, the American cyclist and seven-time Tour de France winner who was stripped of his seven Tour titles in 2012 due to doping charges. During the interview, Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing substances throughout his cycling career, including the hormones cortisone, testosterone and erythropoietin (also known as EPO). "I am deeply flawed ... and I'm paying the price for it, and I think that's okay. I deserve this," he stated. The interview reportedly brought in millions of dollars in revenue for OWN.
Of her interview with Armstrong, Winfrey said in a statement, "He did not come clean in the manner I expected. It was surprising to me. I would say that, for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized by some of his answers. I felt he was thorough. He was serious. He certainly prepared himself for this moment. I would say he met the moment. At the end of it, we both were pretty exhausted."
In March 2015, Winfrey announced that her Chicago-based Harpo Studios would close at the end of the year to consolidate the company’s production operations to the Los Angeles-based OWN headquarters. Winfrey’s television empire was launched at the studio and it had been home to her daily syndicated talk show through its finale in 2011. "The time had come to downsize this part of the business and to move forward. It will be sad to say goodbye," said Winfrey, "but I look ahead with such a knowing that what the future holds is even more than I can see."
Winfrey returned to acting in Greenleaf, which marked her first recurring scripted television role. The original family drama revolves around a Memphis megachurch and premiered on OWN in June 2016.

Activism and Charity

According to Forbes magazine, Oprah was the richest African American of the 20th century and the world's only Black billionaire for three years running. Life magazine hailed her as the most influential woman of her generation. In 2005, Business Week named her the greatest Black philanthropist in American history. Oprah's Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000 for charitable programs, including girls' education in South Africa and relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Winfrey is a dedicated activist for children's rights; in 1994, President Clinton signed a bill into law that Winfrey had proposed to Congress, creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. She founded the Family for Better Lives foundation and also contributes to her alma mater, Tennessee State University. In September 2002, Oprah was named the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.
Winfrey campaigned for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in December 2007, attracting the largest crowds of the primary season to that point. Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary/caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. It was the first time Winfrey had ever campaigned for a political candidate.
The biggest event was at the University of South Carolina football stadium, where 29,000 supporters attended a rally that had been switched from an 18,000-seat basketball arena to satisfy public demand.
"Dr. (Martin Luther) King dreamed the dream. But we don't have to just dream the dream any more," Oprah told the crowd. "We get to vote that dream into reality by supporting a man who knows not just who we are, but who we can be." The power of Winfrey's political endorsement was unclear (Obama won Iowa and South Carolina, but lost New Hampshire). But she has a clear track record of turning unknown authors into blockbuster best-sellers when she mentions their books on her program.
After The Oprah Winfrey Show ended on September 9, 2011, Oprah has remained in the rapidly shifting and converging media field through The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which launched on January 1, 2011.
In her final season of her talk show, Oprah made ratings soar when she revealed a family secret: she has a half-sister named Patricia. Oprah's mother gave birth to a baby girl in 1963. At the time, Oprah was 9 years old, and living with her father. Lee put the child up for adoption because she believed that she wouldn't be able to get off public assistance if she had another child to care for. Patricia lived in a series of foster homes until she was 7 years old.
Patricia tried to connect with her birth mother through her adoption agency after she became an adult, but Lee did not want to meet her. After doing some research, she approached a niece of Winfrey's, and the two had DNA tests done, which proved they were related.
Winfrey only learned of her sister's existence a few months before she made the decision to publicize the knowledge. "It was one of the greatest surprises of my life," Winfrey said on her show.
In November 2013, Winfrey received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidental Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama gave her this award for her contributions to her country.
Since 1992, Winfrey has been engaged to Stedman Graham, a public relations executive. The couple lives in Chicago, and Winfrey also has homes in Montecito, California, Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and Telluride, Colorado.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Kit Harington - Biography (video)

Synopsis

Kit Harington studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London. Soon after graduating in 2008, he starred in the London production of War Horse. Harington had his first hit statewide with the debut of the popular fantasy series Game of Thrones in 2011. He played Jon Snow, a warrior and illegitimate son of Lord Eddard Stark, on the show for five seasons.

Early Life and Education

Born Christopher Catesby Harington on December 26, 1986, in London, the actor Kit Harington is best known for playing Jon Snow on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. He grew up in London and then moved to Worcester around the age of 11. Around this time, Harington made an important discovery. He told CNN that he learned that his first name was only a nickname. "I went to school, you do these exams and I put down Kit Harington and the teacher said, 'That's not your name,' and I said, 'Yeah I think I'd know my own name!' They were like, "No no your name is Christopher." I was a bit pissed off with my mum."
Harington first dreamed of taking up another career growing up. As he told Variety, "I always thought I would be a journalist, and never really saw acting as a career, only as a hobby." He changed his tune when he was admitted to the Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London. Harrington explained to Back Stage that "getting into the so-called top drama schools in London is very, very difficult."

'Game of Thrones'

After graduating in 2008, Harington landed his first major role on the London stage. He played a young man who follows his beloved animal into combat in the drama War Horse. After War Horse, Harington soon auditioned for his most famous part to date. He looked a little rough around the edges when he first tried out for Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, on Game of Thrones. Harington told the Daily Mail that "I had a black eye as I'd been in a scrap. But I think it might have helped. You know, 'Who's the kid with the black eye?'"Once he won the part, Harington asked to change his look after shooting the show's pilot episode. The producers asked him to grow his hair and a beard and skip shampoo to make him "look a bit dirtier and grubbier and more visceral," he told CNN.
Based on the fantasy novels by George R.R. MartinGame of Thrones debuted in 2011 and quickly developed a strong following. Harington explained the show's success to GQ. "I think people like Game of Thrones because people respond to not being treated like idiots. It's a really complex story, and it's very hard to follow, and people love working that puzzle out." It also probably helps that "it's rollicking good story with sex and violence."
In 2015, Game of Thrones fans (and Harington) received a nasty shock—warrior Jon Snow seemingly met his end at the conclusion of the show's fifth season. While some viewers may still be in denial, Harington insisted to Entertainment Weekly that there will be no resurrection of his character. "I’ve been told I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m not coming back next season." But come back he did, and in 2016 he received his first Emmy nomination for his work on the show.

Beyond Westeros

While working on Game of Thrones, Harington found time for other projects. He starred in the historical action-adventure Pompeii (2014) with Carrie-Anne Moss and Kiefer Sutherland and in Vera Brittain's autobiographical war drama Testament of Youth (2014) with Alicia Vikanderand Emily Watson.  The following year saw Harington in a new comedic light when he starred opposite Andy Samberg in the 2015 HBO tennis mockumentary 7 Days in Hell.
Harington is set to appear in the upcoming dramatic film Brimstone with Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce.



Kit Harington photo via Getty Images

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Obama’s Farewell Address - full video and full transcript

President Barack Obama gave his final address to the nation Tuesday night, addressing such issues as climate change, foreign policy and health care.
Obama reflected on the accomplishments of his administration, but also issued a call to action for citizens going forward during his speech, which he delivered in front of a large crowd in Chicago.
Below, read Obama’s full remarks as delivered, according to a transcript provided by the White House:
Chicago! It’s good to be home! Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. All right, everybody sit down. We’re on live TV here. I’ve got to move. You can tell that I’m a lame duck because nobody is following instructions. Everybody have a seat.
My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well wishes that we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight, it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we have seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people, in living rooms and in schools, at farms, on factory floors, at diners and on distant military outposts -– those conversations are what have kept me honest, and kept me inspired, and kept me going. And every day, I have learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early 20s. And I was still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for a purpose in my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
OBAMA: I can’t do that.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
OBAMA: This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.
After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea –- our bold experiment in self-government. It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.
What a radical idea. A great gift that our Founders gave to us: The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat and toil and imagination, and the imperative to strive together, as well, to achieve a common good, a greater good.
For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande. It’s what pushed women to reach for the ballot. It’s what powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan. And why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs, as well.
So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional ― not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change and make life better for those who follow. Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It’s always been contentious. Sometimes it’s been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all and not just some.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history  if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11  if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens, if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did. That’s what you did.
You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.
In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy.
AUDIENCE: Nooo ―
OBAMA: No, no, no, no, no ― the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next. I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.
We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.
That’s what I want to focus on tonight: The state of our democracy. Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity -– the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.
There have been moments throughout our history that threatens that solidarity. And the beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism -– these forces haven’t just tested our security and our prosperity, but are testing our democracy, as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland. In other words, it will determine our future.
To begin with, our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. And the good news is that today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And I’ve said and I mean it ― if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system and that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it.
Because that, after all, is why we serve. Not to score points or take credit, but to make people’s lives better.
But for all the real progress that we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class. That’s the economic argument. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic ideal. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and in rural counties, have been left behind ― the laid-off factory worker; the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills ― convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful ― that’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
But there are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree, our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need  to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now, and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.
We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.
There’s a second threat to our democracy ― and this one is as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say. You can see it not just in statistics, you see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.
But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do. If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children ― because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce. And we have shown that our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.
So if we’re going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination ― in hiring, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system. That is what our Constitution and our highest ideals require.
But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction ― Atticus Finch  who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face ― not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he’s got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change. We have to pay attention, and listen.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s  that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our Founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles ― who it was said we’re going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.
So regardless of the station that we occupy, we all have to try harder. We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.
And that’s not easy to do. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste ― all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.
And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. But politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter  then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible.
And isn’t that part of what so often makes politics dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because, as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil; we’ve doubled our renewable energy; we’ve led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects: more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.
Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country ― the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.
It is that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse ― the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.
It’s that spirit ― a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might ― that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression; that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but built on principles ― the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion, and speech, and assembly, and an independent press.
That order is now being challenged ― first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets and open democracies and and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.
Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, because of our intelligence officers, and law enforcement, and diplomats who support our troops, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years. And although Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists ― including bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.
And to all who serve or have served, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief. And we all owe you a deep debt of gratitude.
But protecting our way of life, that’s not just the job of our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So, just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.
And that’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans, who are just as patriotic as we are.
That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights ― to expand democracy, and human rights, and women’s rights, and LGBT rights. No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.
So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world ― unless we give up what we stand for  and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.
Which brings me to my final point: Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our congressional districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.
But remember, none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning. With our participation, and with the choices that we make, and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. That’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth.” And so we have to preserve this truth with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.
America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen not just as misguided but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy: Citizen. Citizen.
So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.
Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in other people, that can be a risk, and there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America ― and in Americans ― will be confirmed.
Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch. I’ve seen wounded warriors who at points were given up for dead walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.
So that faith that I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change ― that faith has been rewarded in ways I could not have possibly imagined. And I hope your faith has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home, you were there with us in 2004, in 2008, 2012  maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off. Let me tell you, you’re not the only ones.
Michelle  Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side  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 and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And the new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. So you have made me proud. And you have made the country proud.
Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women. You are smart and you are beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.
To Joe Biden  the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son ― 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. And we love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives.
To my remarkable staff: For eight years ― and for some of you, a whole lot more ― I have drawn from your energy, and every day I tried to reflect back what you displayed ― heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. You guarded against cynicism. And the only thing that makes me prouder than all the good that we’ve done is the thought of all the amazing things that you’re going to achieve from here.
And to all of you out there ― every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change ― you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will be forever grateful. Because you did change the world. You did.
And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans, it has inspired so many Americans ― especially so many young people out there ― to believe that you can make a difference  to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.
Let me tell you, this generation coming up ― unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic ― I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America. You know that constant change has been America’s hallmark; that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace. You are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber all of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President ― the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change ― but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can.
Yes, we did. Yes, we can.
Thank you. God bless you. May God continue to bless the United States of America.