My Faults My Own

…willing to sacrifice something we don't have

for something we won't have, so somebody will someday.

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: June 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: Marginal Revolution | Which technological advances have improved the working of autocracy? — The big innovation in authoritarian governance has been this: subsequent autocratic leaders, most of all in China, have found ways of both liberalizing and staying in power.

Blog: Schneier on Security | Free Societies are at a Disadvantage in National Cybersecurity — "I do worry that these disadvantages will someday become intolerable. Dan Geer often said that "the price of freedom is the probability of crime." We are willing to pay this price because it isn't that high. As technology makes individual and small-group actors more powerful, this price will

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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, though Scott Aaronson expresses it far better than I can:

To the Trump regime, I make one request: if you

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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 how federal prosecutors enforcing unjust laws hounded that young man until he took his own life.

And so I took

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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 like I'm starting college again -- my days are long and full, all of my work is interesting and new,

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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?"


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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 it to say (for those who can't be bothered to click through that link) that the Ninth Circuit's 2007 ruling

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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 flags on front porches  
    and banners of unity
        spanning the bridges
      from the top of the fence—
as we
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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 back and check against source.


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Before we do this, I want you to ask yourself what you expect to

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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 (claim to) stand for.


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1. There's actually a good deal to like about the Green platform. It's pro-UBI, (mostly)

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