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: January 21)

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: (finish later) | 3 Thought Experiments: An Exercise in Ponens and Tollens

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Dear Canada: Don’t Ban Paid Blood Plasma Donation

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Do markets underprovide genetic insurance?

Interview: Conversations with Tyler | Ross Douthat on Narrative and Religion

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Rule of Law Can't Ignore Human Costs — Weakly argued, I think, though Tyler does well to raise important points.


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Blog: Marginal Revolution | The value of media attention for mass killers — "But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it!" / "Oh. Well, then stop."


(15)

Blog: Less Wrong | Announcement: AI alignment prize winners and next round


(14)

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Social

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I'm Registered to (trade my) Vote

I'm glad to share that I've registered to vote in New York. I'm glad not just because I'm a West-Wing-watching sap who believes that voting is a civic responsibility as well as a personal privilege, but also because we live in terrifying times and face an election of terrifying stakes.

"But Ross," you might object, "isn't New York, like, 99% likely to go for Clinton anyway?"

To this I reply:

  1. It's still a closer race here than in Maryland, which FiveThirtyEight claims is 99.8% likely to go Clinton.
  2. I'm a West-Wing-watching sap who believes that voting is a civic responsibility as well as a personal privilege.
  3. I'm going to be trading my vote with a third-party voter in a swing state.

"I'm sorry, what?"


(1)

Scott Aaronson laid out the case for vote-swapping exceedingly well in a recent blog post, so I won't re-hash the matter here. Suffice

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A Verse for the City

From the top of the towers,  
    you could see past the narrows,
        past our lady of the harbor,
      to the broad, open sea.
See the curve of the earth  
    on the vast, blue horizon
        from the world’s greatest city,
      in the land of the free.

All the brave men and women  
    that you never would notice,
        from the precincts and fire halls---
      the first on the scene.
Storming into the buildings  
    on the side of the angels,
        they were gone in an instant,
      in the belly of the beast.

We are children of slavery,  
   children of immigrants,
      remnants of tribes and their tired refugees.
As they tumbled down,  
   we were stronger together—
      stronger than we ever knew we could be—
         as strong as that statue that stands for the promise
of liberty here in this city of dreams.

All the
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Those Emails

If you hadn't heard: A group that was almost certainly Russian military intelligence stole almost 20,000 emails from the DNC and Wikileaks published them on Saturday. Personally, I doubt that there's anything in them, but---

---what's that?---

---they're literally the smoking gun of a plot to steal the nomination for Hillary Cl---

---no, no, I'm certain that they're not---

---um---

---okay, okay, I'll take a look and see what's there. Here we go.

attention conservation notice: This post is long. Like, 7000 words long. If you just want to skip to the executive summary at the end, I won't blame you. There, I go over the material that I cover below with convenient links back to the relevant section, if at any point you want to go

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I can't support the Green platform

In a conversation with an acquaintance about the political ethics of voting for Jill Stein, I realized that I had very little idea what the Green Party stood for. (Um...the environment?) So I spent a few hours today reading the Green Party platform. I can't say it was an exciting experience, but now at least I feel like I have some sense of what it means to be Green. I liked a good deal of what I read, but in the end, there were a few things that I just couldn't stomach.

note: At no point in this post am I going to discuss the political ethics of voting for a third-party candidate, in general, in a first-past-the-post race. If you want to read about that sort of thing, you're in the wrong place; this is a post unpacking what the Green Party specifically does and does not

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Review: Anathem

If you're looking for a short verdict on Anathem, you've come to the wrong place I thought it was excellent, and if you're the sort of person who reads this blog, you're highly likely to enjoy it, too. For reference, I enjoyed it significantly more than Snow Crash, the only other Stephenson I've read, which I would peg at "good, but not excellent". (Edit: I also enjoyed Anathem more than Cryptonomicon (excellent) and Seveneves (very good). Of these four, I enjoyed Snow Crash least.)

Proper review follows.


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It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that at one stage in my life, my favorite book was Ender's Game. This is, as I understand it, downright conventional for intellectually gifted children of a particular age, if not actually a rite of passage. As Orson Scott Card writes in the foreword to the 1991 edition of Game:

[A] woman who

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Provide for the Common Defense

What you did was done in our name, at our request. We cannot bear your physical wounds, or psychological scars, but we can bear the moral responsibility with you. Your transgressions in war, they are our transgressions, too. We confess this together, and seek forgiveness together.


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Let's talk about what happened yesterday in the Senate. No, not that filibuster; the 85-13 vote on the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA re-authorizes $602B of military spending for the 2017 fiscal year. But it also includes an amendment (added in committee by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chair of the Armed Services Committee, and supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)) which expands the Selective Service registration requirement to women.

Meanwhile, in the House, something incomprehensible happened:

During the House Armed Services Committee review of this year’s defense-funding bill late last month, California Republican Duncan Hunter introduced an amendment

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[Meta] My Faults My Own is now (happily) hosted by Digital Ocean

discount code: If you sign up for Digital Ocean with my referral link, you get $10 of credit and I get $25 of credit after you've spent your first $25. This link should be good indefinitely, and I'm getting no compensation for this review.


Amongst all of the large transitions happening in my life about now, I found it necessary to move my blog server from "some borrowed machine on the Harvard network" to a real-adult location, like "the cloud". After asking a few friends for recommendations, I decided to rent server time from Digital Ocean, at least as a stopgap measure until the end of the summer, when I'd be able to pick out my own internet plan.

I'm glad to report that I couldn't be happier with DO's service. Spinning up a new virtual server and migrating Faults to it was probably the easiest piece of system

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