IN WHICH Ross Rheingans-Yoo, a sometimes-poet and erstwhile student of Computer Science and Math, oc­cas­ion­al­ly writes on things of int­erest.

# Reading Feed (last update: October 15)

A collection of things that I was happy I read. Views expressed by linked authors are chosen because I think they're interesting, not because I think they're correct, unless indicated otherwise.

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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Is the World Bank lending too much to China? — "As I understand it, the World Bank makes money on these loans and there is a cross-subsidy of other Bank activities, most of all aid. A World Bank that stopped such loans would be poorer and less skilled, and over time could devolve into one of the poorer, less effective poverty-fighting parts of the United Nations, without much of a political power base at that."

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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Blade Runner 2049 (some Straussian spoilers) — "It hardly makes any concessions to the Hollywood vices of this millennium and indeed much of the Tysons Corner

# What I found in the desert

A month and a half ago, I took a plane to Reno, a bus out into the desert, and spent a week at Burning Man. This is an attempt to order some of my thoughts about that week.

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Surviving (even in relative comfort) wasn't as hard my pre-trip reading billed it as. Of course, it helped that I was camping with engineers who could reliably make a plan, ask themselves what would cause it to go wrong, fix that, repeat -- and then problem-solve when something unanticipated broke. Basic competence, responsibility, and leadership -- together with a well-adhered-to norm of "make sure you have everything you personally need, even things the camp has plans to provide" ('radical self-reliance' is the usual term) -- left us with a lot of slack.

From there, it was mostly just a matter of drinking enough water / electrolytes, noticing when I needed to eat,

# Chelsea Manning / HKS IOP / "Visiting Fellowship"

Here are some Harvard Crimson headlines from this week:

So here we go...

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One of the more annoying things about this affair has been the way the discussion has chased a dramatized, misleading version of the facts. To borrow a phrase, the commentators (in my social bubble) seem content with -- if not actively interested in -- framing the matter to produce heat, instead of light.

The easiest antidote for this is actually to read Dean Elmendorf's statement announcing and explaining the withdrawal of the IOP's Visiting Fellow appointment. I say this not because I agree with the decision or Elmendorf's justification, but because it at least explains what the decision was:

Some visitors to the Kennedy School are invited for just

# The dark joke that was Shkreli's voir dire

Two things. First, these selected quotations from the voir dire of Martin Shkreli's trial for securities fraud are widely understood to be hilarious:

The Court: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.

Juror no. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.

[Defense attorney] Benjamin Brafman: I’m sorry.

Juror no. 1: I think he’s a greedy little man.

...

The Court: Juror Number 1 is excused. Juror Number 18.

Juror no. 18: Both of my parents are on prescriptions that have gone up over the past few months, so much that they can’t afford their drugs. I have several friends who have H.I.V. or AIDS who, again, can’t afford the prescription drugs

# Mass Ave, Mt Auburn, and a Tale of Two Schools

Still, this report shows that Harvard could learn a lot from MIT about how to run a university.

Harry Lewis, "The Report Harvard Should Have Asked For", 2013

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Around the time I came to Harvard, both Mass Ave schools were dealing with the fallout of embarrassing, messy institutional mistakes. Both started with relatively small incidents, compounded by administrative decisions that were incredibly contentious during and after the fact.

Harvard's began with the Gov 1310 cheating scandal -- and it escalated when scandal erupted over the administration's search of faculty emails to find which sub-dean had spoken to the press, raising both privacy concerns and unease about the relationship between the faculty and the administration.

MIT's began with the arrest of Aaron Swartz for downloading academic articles from JSTOR -- and escalated over the Institute's complicity with the US Attorney's Office, which many members of the community felt betrayed

# Thoughts on "Be Reasonable" as a collaboration policy

I drafted this one back in May when the controversy described was live, but never quite got around to pushing it out the door. There haven't been any real developments in the news since then, and I still believe in the points I made, so I'm publishing it now before it gets any more stale.

A course I used to teach -- cs50 -- has seen some on-campus news (and editorial) coverage recently in the wake of a leak that 60 students in the course were reported to the Administrative Board on suspicions of academic dishonesty. I don't have much to say, not having any relationship with the course since 2016 and not having any particularly relevant inside information as a former Teaching Fellow. (As a relatively junior member of the course staff, I wasn't asked to work on any cases of academic dishonesty, and the revelations that

# Is Patriotism A Virtue?

Alasdair MacIntyre, The 1984 Lindley Lecture at the University of Kansas. excerpted to 1787 words.

One of the central tasks of the moral philosopher is to articulate the convictions of the society in which he or she lives so that these convictions may become available for rational scrutiny. This task is all the more urgent when a variety of conflicting and incompatible beliefs are held within one and the same community, either by rival groups who differ on key moral questions or by one and the same set of individuals who find within themselves competing moral allegiances. In either of these types of case the first task of the moral philosopher is to render explicit what is at issue in the various disagreements and it is a task of this kind that I have set myself in this lecture.

For it is quite clear that there are large disagreements about

# On “’till the stock of the Puritans die”

attention-conservation notice: Taking poetry seriously. Wholehearted, uncynical, unapologetic Harvardiana.

Today's the first time that many of Harvard's graduands will hear the little-known final verse of "Fair Harvard". So it seems as good a time as any to muse on the administration's decision to change that verse's final lyric.

It would be pretty natural to be outraged at the prospect, but after trying to start that blog post and failing for a while, I realized that I'm actually in favor of the change.

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"Fair Harvard", as far as almae matres go, is actually quite good. Here are a few others for comparison:

 Notre Dame, our Mother tender, strong, and true, proudly in the heavens, gleams thy gold and blue. Glory’s mantle cloaks thee; golden is thy fame and our hearts forever praise thee Notre Dame. MSU, we love thy shadows When twilight silence falls, glushing deep and softly