My Faults My Own

…beleaguered by the same

negation and despair,

show an affirming flame.

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

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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

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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
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Three Gifts from Penny Rheingans

My mother's given me an awful lot over these 23-odd years, but here are three gifts from her I'm particularly thankful for:

1) An instinct to not assign to malice that which is explained by ignorance -- to seek first to teach, rather than fight. It's easy to assume that the person causing you harm thinks the same way you do, and so is doing it on purpose -- but surprisingly often, that's not the case. And when the culprit really is malice or active apathy, I learned from Mom just how strong relentless politeness can be at clearing problems.

2) A thorough appreciation for the power of good visual design. Mom's a computer scientist with research interests in visualizing data, and to this day, I'll call her when a problem at work seems to call for some special technique. Some of the best tricks I know (and regularly use!

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Happy Housing Day!

(In which the author, through timely blogging, attempts to rekindle a fading feeling of connection to his alma mater.)


On a Thursday morning four years ago, upperclassmen pounded on the door of my friends' suite where I had slept over (again), and when we let them in, they popped a (well-shaken) bottle of champagne to welcome us to Eliot House. Over the next three years, I'd spend some of the best afternoons (and the most miserable all-nighters) in Eliot, and though I'd be stretching the truth to say that I became close with everyone in the house, I had a place that was home to come bck to, year after year. Of course, I had the best friends I could possibly have asked for, but for that I owe more thanks to the Freshman Dean's Office for throwing us all into Canaday than the housing lottery for giving us

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What is there to say?

My grandfather was a career scientist at Oak Ridge National Labs for 36 years. He was an international traveler and an international collaborator, advancing human knowledge of materials science as best he knew how -- by sharing what he knew with fellow seekers of truth, regardless of nationality. As a young man, he left a country rent by war to seek an education -- and a home -- and a future in the United States. Here he raised three sons, international travelers and collaborators themselves -- a businessman, a public servant, and a professor of Law.

I can't count the friends I have with friends and colleagues, seeking an education -- seeking a future -- seeking to advance the knowledge of all mankind -- who have had my nation slam our door in their faces this weekend. I feel sick for what my nation has done in my name,

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Remembering Aaron Swartz

including a review of The Idealist, by Justin Peters

You haven't seen a roomful of students' eyebrows shoot up simultaneously until you begin your CS50 section with a content warning for suicide.

content warning: suicide.


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It was the week we were covering web development and walking through a project that had students scraping an RSS feed to extract news stories geotagged as local. It was also Aaron Swartz's birthday.

And so it seemed wrong not to include, in that lesson, some words for the young visionary who was no older than some of my students when he invented the protocol we'd be using that week. It seemed wrong not to take the occasion to remind my students that the things they were learning could be used to literally change the world. And it seemed wrong not to tell the story about

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Onward

attention-conservation notice: this is a personal-life-update post, not a deep-philosophical-commentary post.

I've finally left the environs of Cambridge to do...whatever comes next...in New York City. I really enjoyed my time at Harvard and was truly sad to see the community of friends that I'd come to love go their assorted and separate ways, but on a personal level, it was time. So I'm glad to be moving on to the next thing.

One piece of "the next thing" is that I'm beginning work as an quantitative trader at a small proprietary trading firm in downtown Manhattan. It's an amazing company that I'm incredibly excited to be returning to full-time -- one of the most intellectually stimulating environments I've found anywhere, with a double helping of diverse and varied day-to-day projects and a culture of social trust, intellectual humility, and collaborative truth-seeking.

In many (great) ways, I feel

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